Mazda is not done with petrol power yet, and diesel is still a key part of its future plans too.
Mazda says that while the advancements of electric vehicles are promising, its company philosophy of looking at the CO2 emissions of its vehicles as a ‘well to wheel’ approach – rather than just the tailpipe emissions – means the internal combustion engine (ICE) still has plenty of life left in it.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the Los Angeles motor show today, the company’s managing executive officer of Powertrain development, Ichiro Hirose, said EVs only make sense for certain parts of the world. For the majority of the planet, the internal combustion engine will deliver better overall CO2 emissions.
“When we think about the reduction of CO2 emissions, we have to look at how the power is generated in each region,” Hirose said.
“Each region and market has different methods of electricity generation. So we have to look at how the electricity is generated in each region. In some regions, it might be clean, so EVs are a good fit. But in other regions, due to power and electricity generation methods, ICE engines may have more advantage in terms of emissions.
“When we think about the goal of CO2 reductions, I think there are still more regions that ICE is a better fit, so I think for the time being we should still focus on ICE,” he added.
Australia as a nation would certainly fit Hirose's description of a region that generates the majority of its electricity from non-renewable and high CO2 emission methods.
Mazda’s approach to the internal combustion engine is fuelled by the company’s insistence that there is plenty of improvements that can be made in the internal combustion engine, with its latest SkyActiv-X unit - to make its way to Australia in the upcoming fourth-generation Mazda 3 (above) - delivering the thermal efficiency of a diesel engine with the benefits of a petrol.
Even so, there is already a next-generation SkyActiv engine in the works that will top the yet-to-be-launched X with further improvements.
“We are already talking to the external peak audience. We would be making another step improvement of around 30 per cent. [There are] several ways to achieve that, but the main way is to have better heat insulation, to avoid heat loss.”
Mazda’s foray into electrification is far slower than its other Japanese rivals – although it has partnered with Toyota to ensure it is not completely left behind – nonetheless it continues to work on hybrid power trains and even a range extender rotary engine.
Meanwhile, Hirose also confirmed the company is actively working on future diesel engines as they provide a good fit for vehicles such as SUVs.
“Actually for the diesel engines, we are also continuously working on that in order to achieve the ideal diesel engine. Especially these days, SUVs are quite popular – that means vehicles are bigger and heavier, for those types of vehicles, in terms of reducing CO2, diesel engines still have the advantage... [we have] no plans to phase out diesel.”
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