We’ve seen a lot of big announcements from car manufacturers recently about future product plans, which usually revolve around electrification. Only a few weeks ago we had Volvo pledging to have some form of electrical power in all of its new models from 2019, and - weirdly - Maserati has similar plans for the same year.
Mazda on the other hand is doing things a little differently. Today the Japanese firm revealed something called Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 - “a new long-term vision for technology development.” And what’s particularly noteworthy of the announcement is that electrical power is pretty low on the agenda.
It gets a token mention halfway down the page, with Mazda saying: “From 2019, start introducing electric vehicles and other electric drive technologies in regions that use a high ratio of clean energy for power generation or restrict certain vehicles to reduce air pollution.” Note the bit in bold - it’s a very good point, and is probably why Mazda has chosen to “continue efforts to perfect the internal combustion engine,” something it’ll do with a revolutionary high compression petrol engine.
We’ve known about Mazda’s efforts to produce a production homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine since for a little while now. HCCI normally uses compression instead of a spark for ignition, much like a diesel engine, but what Mazda has actually cooked up for for its incoming ‘SkyActiv-X’ engine (due in 2019) is HCSI, with the ‘SI’ bit standing for ‘spark ignition’. This blends the two technologies, using both compression and a spark for ignition.
The kind of fuel/air mixture that’ll be in the cylinders simply wouldn’t ignite under normal conditions, which is why it needs the helping hand of compression to explode. This makes a “super lean burn” possible, improving efficiency by anything up to 30 per cent. So it’ll be as efficient (if not more so) than Mazda’s latest diesel engines, with something far nicer coughing out the tail pipe.
Mazda is even on about fitting a supercharger to SkyActiv-X, working together with the compression technology to “deliver unprecedented engine response and increase torque 10 - 30 percent.”
Ladies and gentlemen, there’s life in the good ol’ petrol engine yet…