Mazda has taken a swipe at the media’s role in propagating the benefits of electric cars for the environment, which Mazda says is blinding the public about the true CO2 emissions of such vehicles, in favour of a new-generation of internal combustion engine (ICE) technologies.
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Speaking to CarAdvice at last week’s Mazda technology forum in Germany, the Japanese company’s head of powertrain development, Ichiro Hirose, said there needs to be more serious and honest discussions about electric vehicle emissions and their total 'well-to-wheel' measurement, and not just tailpipe emissions.

“When you talk about the overall CO2 emission, we talk about EVs having an image. But if you look at where the power generation is coming from, and how it’s generated, it’s still producing a lot of CO2 before it gets to that EV. Of course, power generation with coal is giving of a lot of CO2, so you need to think about it in a very comprehensive way.” Hirose told CarAdvice.

Speaking about the media’s role in the promotion of electric vehicle, Hirose said the discussion is not taking all the facts into account and is pushing the government debate in the wrong direction.

“If you take Japan, for example, the media is harking on about EVs having zero CO2 – as if that is the absolute truth – it’s almost like they are controlling the minds of the media to make them believe this. I think the basis of the discussion must be first, what is the truth and where to do we go from there?”

As far as Hirose is concerned, the ICE still has a lot of life left, with the possibility of using renewable liquid fuels in the coming years to reduce current levels of CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent.

“It’s not the end of the internal combustion engine, because we have the potential to use other types of fuels. For example, let us take artificial photosynthesis, basing on fuel-based matter, micro algae; make that and refine that into the oil to use for ICE. If we were able to achieve this, we would be able to offset some of these CO2 emissions.

“What we intend to do is really polish up on the ICE and once we are able to do that we will intelligently combine it with electrification devices so that we can get in terms of efficiencies, in regard to CO2, best efficiency in terms of a mobility device.”

Hirose said the discussion about the true emissions of EVs needs to take place before governments around the world start banning the ICE.

“If you look at some of the regulations that are due to come in the major European countries, where we would have no ICE in certain areas, if we can have an appropriate discussion to have the appropriate right values, then there is no need to use the technologies as a tool to impose such a blanket regulation.”

Mazda’s answer to electrification? Its new range of SkyActiv X powertrains and platforms that seek to combine the best of the diesel and petrol engine for efficiency and CO2 emission improvements of 20-30 per cent.

Backing up Hirose, Mazda's director and senior managing executive officer of research and development, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, added that Mazda is not the only one still heavily invested in the internal combustion engine, with many other manufacturers still actively working on improvements, albeit out of the public's and media's eye.

"Mobility requires liquid fuel – renewable fuel itself, that’s the best way," said Fujiwara. "Most of the manufacturers, especially German brands, now they are saying that EVs are important but under the brand, they are still developing the ICE. Now, they cannot say ICE because they having big problems with cheating device, and also now they are facing political elections, they are coming."