Mazda has fine ambitions for future gasoline engine

Posted: January 31, 2018 by oldbrew in innovation, News, Travel

Mazda’s newest engine technology

Mazda seems confident its spark controlled compression ignition solution – a sort of cross between petrol and diesel engine technology, but running on petrol – can rival electric vehicles in overall CO2 output and hopes to put it on sale.

We get it says TechXplore. Car-makers say they are on board for a next chapter in the electrification of cars and they have teams dedicated to developing cars toward that end.

Well-known brands are looking at alternative-fuel solutions such as hybrid or all-electric. It seems as if the internal combustion engine will be on its way out.

But wait.

Mazda’s engineers have been thinking about the future, aka Skyactiv-3. Gasoline-powered vehicles could be around longer than you imagined. As a PCMag headline put it, “The Internal Combustion Engine Isn’t Going Anywhere Just Yet.”

Kyle Hyatt, news and features editor, Roadshow, summarized the news. “Mazda announced at a technical conference in Tokyo that if it can bump the thermal efficiency of its high-compression Skyactiv-G gasoline engines by 27 percent, to a total of 57 percent, that it can reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent, making its internal combustion engines as clean as electric vehicles.”

PCMag columnist Doug Newcomb said, “Mazda has been fine-tuning the good ol’ internal-combustion engine (ICE) for better miles per gallon.”

Mazda’s powertrain chief talked about the future during an automotive technical conference and he called the future engine technology Skyactiv-3.

Mircea Panait wrote on Monday in autoevolution that of all the Japanese automakers out there, Infiniti and Mazda were the most focused on developing internal combustion technology.

Namely, they are working on another generation of Skyactiv high-compression engines, said Automotive News. This is all about the SkyActiv-3 tech. The priority is to boost the thermal efficiency.

Quoted in Automotive News, Mitsuo Hitomi, Mazda’s managing executive officer in charge of powertrain, said that if Mazda can increase the thermal efficiency of its third-generation Skyactiv engine by about 27 percent, to 56 percent, it can achieve emissions on a par with an EV.

David Tracy in Jalopnik said it will “offer efficiency levels that could yield overall CO2 output similar to that of some EVs.”

When? “Hitomi did not offer a timeline for delivering the Skyactiv-3 technology,” said Hans Greimel, Automotive News.

Continued here.

Video here.

  1. Stephen Richards says:

    Nissan infinity have an engine on similar principles but different implementation. Both are complex with a high failure risk index.

  2. Curious George says:

    A higher thermal efficiency comes from a higher combustion temperature. That creates more nitrogen oxides. Combined with a more complex mechanical design, I understand why they don’t offer a timeline.

  3. Bitter@twisted says:

    It’s a petrol engine running at very high compression.
    I can’t see how they can avoid pre-ignition (pinking) which would rapidly melt the pistons.
    The video and blurb provide no clue.

  4. JB says:

    The technology Topgear describes is just a variation on the ICE theme using a microcontroller to adapt combustion conditions to load requirements. It’s a dead-end technology. Nothing really new about it. Electric drive is here to stay as soon as someone figures out how to supply the necessary electrical energy without use of toxic metals and high maintenance cost. Once that happens there will be a revolution across all forms of transportation, especially aircraft.

  5. Electric drive maybe the future but it will come with a generator (as diesel electric locomotives) or a fuel cell. There is no future in charging points (100’s km or in Australia 1000’s km apart) for heavy batteries which will fail in 3 years. Watch makers like Tesla which require charging for batteries go broke.

  6. stpaulchuck says:

    “If …” this and “when we” … that. More science fiction.

  7. oldbrew says:

    Mazda is bringing back the rotary [Wankel] engine – but not as we know it

    The rotary engine will be used as an EV range extender
    16 Oct 2017

    Many manufacturers have experimented with rotary engines in the past, but drawbacks such as poor fuel consumption and low torque have meant only Mazda has really persisted with the technology.
    . . .
    However, range extenders only serve to charge the battery of an EV – they don’t actually drive the wheels themselves – and that means those drawbacks are sidestepped. In fact, rotary engines are known for just how compact and quiet they are, and that means they’re ideal for use as a range extender.

    We’ll find out if Mazda has made the right choice in two years time. In the meantime, here are a few videos [see link] of that fantastic 787B – don’t expect the new EV to sound like this.

  8. Dave Ward says:

    The Wankel engine may have some advantages as a range extender power unit (compact size and weight), but I fail to see how they can dismiss it’s poor thermal efficiency. A conventional piston engine optimised for running at a specific speed and load would be a much better choice, and that’s exactly what is needed for a DC charging set.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Read a VW paper about such a dual mode engine some decades back (it was their future technology road map ending at an engine which could run both gasoline and Diesel fuel as compression and spark ignited).

    The basic “magic” in the tech is that the fuel is injected straight into the cylinder, so pre-ignition can’t happen, and a spark is added so that gasoline that would otherwise file to compression ignite gets lit off at the right time.

    Think of it as a Diesel compression ignition engine that can use fuel designed to resist compression ignition (gasoline) via an added spark plug; and where that same gasoline is prevented from pinging by having it NOT be in the combustion chamber during the compression stroke but only injected at the top of the cycle.

    It’s actually a pretty good idea… once you know you have good NOx scrubbers / cat converters and can make a rugged Diesel engine out of light weight materials…. but want to run gasoline when it is more available and / or cheaper… Just harder to make as you have competing design goals that are only met with more expensive materials ( keep that 15% ethanol gasoline from corroding your fuel injector pump and injectors under high heat and pressure? No problem. Just apply more expensive stainless steel alloys… Run gasoline in your Diesel? No problem… just add on all the ignition complexities of your gasoline engine to your basic Diesel AND have a computer adjust for the different modes via a fleet of added fuel and combustion sensors…)

  10. michael hart says:

    I find it difficult to believe that there are suddenly some remarkable gains to made in the technology of internal combustion engines. They have come a long way, incrementally, but the progress gets harder. They are going to be with us for a long time yet. They get excluded from wealthy Western cities, but the rest of the planet isn’t so simple.

    What does make me smile though, is the thought of a regular massive Bangkok traffic jam when all of their electric vehicle batteries go dead after a few hours. Can you imagine that? 🙂

  11. tempestnut says:

    You could make a 15% improvement in over the road fuel economy with the diesel engine NOW, especially in heavy trucks and plant, just by relaxing the NOx requirements. Note that is not a 15% improvement in thermal efficiency. Over the road mileage or improving the productivity of a machine have many factors and all the current technology that has been bought to bear to reduce NOx and Particulates to near zero (and by that I mean it is impossible for the regulators to measure further reductions) have been used to mitigate the poor performance you get by lowering combustion temps, which by the way greatly increase particulates in both compression ignition and spark ignited petrol engines, especially the direct petrol injection type.

    When NOx was first regulated in Petrol engines in California it was because of smog. Nitrous oxides were and are a major contributor to smog. Wind the clock forward when NOx levels from all types of engines are very low and NOx is suddenly a health hazard, and causing x thousands of deaths every year from respiratory complaints. But you wont find one name, and if you do the research you will find that the particular NOx compound they say is the cause of this “health hazard” all calculated by computer models, is a molecule that is not produced by internal combustion engines! More junk science.

  12. John Dooley says:

    The sea aint rising,global temperatures are dropping, the IPCC Models are junk. Why bother. The good old internal combustion engine should left alone. Oh and peak oil is history. Centuries of oil left.

  13. J Martin says:

    Are you saying there are different types of nox ?

  14. John Gill says:

    It seems obvious that the world would benefit more from new technologies which exploit the convenience and economy of fossil fuelled energy solutions to the utmost rather than sidelining them in favour of inconvenient, unreliable and expensive alternatives.
    I applaud Mazda for their logical approach.

  15. stewgreen says:

    You saw the November , Times article “an emissions-friendly camshaft design can boost conventional motors” Cambridge startup
    “Camcon has developed a replacement for the conventional camshaft, the part of the engine that operates the valves, swapping it for a set of digitally controlled motors
    . In doing so, it aims to remove the last remaining analogue system in the traditional engine”

  16. stewgreen says:

    Notice how from the beginning comments on that article got hijacked by people pushing the EV dream.

  17. stewgreen says:

    Don’t Ford own Mazda ?
    Ah “2008 Ford Motor Co.’s decision to sell its stake in the carmaker from a controlling 33 percent to 13 percent”
    It gained Ford cash and freed it to develop its other Chinese partners.

  18. oldbrew says:

    Electric cars have benefits, but likely won’t save you money
    February 7, 2018

    AAA estimates electric vehicles lose $5,704 in value each year they’re owned, compared to $2,114 for small cars like the Civic.

    Read more at:

    No wonder leasing is more ‘popular’ (if that’s right for pitiful sales figures) than buying.
    Replacement battery? $5000+, then add fitting costs.

  19. John Dooley says:

    Any one who buys an electric to save the planet from co2 needs their head examined. Lithium Ion batteries can go on fire in an accident. The occupants are said only to have 60 seconds to get out or else be burned alive. Just heard another Tesla went on fire in Austria. I wonder did the drive have enough FIRE and theft insurance. I mean touching a motor way barrier and auto combusting.

  20. John PAK says:

    No-one is serious about fuel economy or noxious emissions. A mechanic at Ford designed a plasma ignition system with water vapour injection that was vastly superior in power, economy and emissions but was told to stop wasting company time because most people just want a car that goes fast when they plant their foot.
    I drive a 4.2 litre straight 6 diesel that is a real slug on the road and very thirsty so I fitted a foot long stainless tube full of tin pellets in the fuel line just before the injection pump. The vehicle now pulls harder at all rev ranges and is more economical though I’ve not finished my three tanks of diesel milage test yet. This is basic tech that’s been around since WW2 but I only know of three others with this sort of simple modification to their vehicles.
    I reckon we need simple affordable solutions before reinventing the automobile.