Mazda will produce the world’s first compression ignition petrol engine, claiming lower 'well-to-wheel' emissions than electric vehicles

Mazda pledged that its next generation of petrol-engine vehicles will be cleaner than electric cars due to the use of efficiency-boosting compression ignition technology - and it'll boost that promise in 2021, when a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain will join the range.

The PHEV system will be the last of the planned drivetrains to be added to the Skyactiv-X range. The first to arrive will be the new petrol engines, which will replace the current Skyactiv-G units in 2019. These engines use compression ignition technology that has previously only been used in diesel engines. Mazda claims they are 30% more efficient than its current petrol units, matching or even improving on the brand’s Skyactiv-D diesel engine range.

Alongside the launch of these groundbreaking petrol units, the Japanese brand will add mild hybrid and full electric drivetrains to its line-up in 2019. The latter will be available in pure battery EV form or with a range extender engine. The technology will be shared with Toyota, which Mazda has recently teamed up with for research and development. The next Mazda 3 will also arrive in 2019, suggesting it could be an early benefiter of the new powertrains.

Interestingly, despite the zero tailpipe emissions of electric vehicles, Mazda claims that its Skyactiv-X engines will actually be the cleanest power sources in its range. Mazda said they'll produce lower carbon dioxide emissions than electric powertrains from a 'well-to-wheel' perspective - which accounts for the whole life cycle of a vehicle and the fuel needed to power it. The company has been developing the new engine technology for several years, as first reported by Autocar in 2014.

Compression ignition technology has not yet been used on a mass production scale in petrol engines. The system, labelled Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, mixes petrol and air together in the engine’s cylinder like a regular spark ignition engine, but then ignites it using compression at lower load or with a spark at higher loads. This means around half the volume of petrol is required for the same combustion level across most of the rev range.

Mazda director Kiyoshi Fujiwara, who has oversight of the firm's R&D programme, explained that this “very lean air-fuel mixture that is too lean to combust by spark ignition [alone] can combust by this method cleanly and rapidly”. He added that this enables "better thermal efficiency, improved fuel economy and lower nitrogen oxide emissions". Other benefits include higher efficiency across a wider range of revs, thus improving engine responses and performance.

The company has pursued this technology because it believes spark ignition technology is reaching its peak. Mazda also argues that while electric technology produces no emissions from a car's tailpipe, it is yet to represent a truly sustainable option on a global scale because much of the world’s electricity grids are still powered by fossil fuels.

As part of its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 plan, Mazda has pledged to reduce corporate average well-to-wheel CO2 emissions to 50% of 2010 levels by 2030, before reducing them by 90% by 2050.

The company will begin introducing electric technology into its range from 2019, but has stated that it will focus sales of these models in regions where sustainable energy is produced. It will continue to invest heavily in petrol technology beyond this point, citing a continued growth of combustion engine demand in other regions, such as developing economies.

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Comments
41

8 August 2017

"technology was previously only used in diesel engines" emmm not entitley true IF it follows the same principal as a certain production 2 stroke Honda, I’ll use my motorbike knowledge here, the CRM250AR (activated radicals combustion) was in production in the late 90's Honda also did something with a 4 stroke engine in the 90's but that was only a pre-production Paris Dakar race bike, not sure why they gave up on the idea on the 4 stroke version. But both these versions did away with spark ignition in certain rev ranges.

Makes great reading if you like technical stuff

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

8 August 2017
They'll need a hell of a lot more than 30% higher efficiency to beat the emissions of electric cars - on the 2016 British grid mix, EVs produce about a third of the CO2 of a typical combustion engine.

Sounds like an attempt to justify being one of the only manufacturers left without an EV on sale or imminently so.

8 August 2017
Vertigo wrote:

They'll need a hell of a lot more than 30% higher efficiency to beat the emissions of electric cars - on the 2016 British grid mix, EVs produce about a third of the CO2 of a typical combustion engine. Sounds like an attempt to justify being one of the only manufacturers left without an EV on sale or imminently so.

It seems kind of obvious, but they sell in a global market, not just Britain, and that's what they are referring to.

8 August 2017
steve-p wrote:

Vertigo wrote:

They'll need a hell of a lot more than 30% higher efficiency to beat the emissions of electric cars - on the 2016 British grid mix, EVs produce about a third of the CO2 of a typical combustion engine. Sounds like an attempt to justify being one of the only manufacturers left without an EV on sale or imminently so.

It seems kind of obvious, but they sell in a global market, not just Britain, and that's what they are referring to.

Britain isn't exactly a green energy utopia, we're only a little ahead of the curve. On our 2016 grid mix (49% fossil fuelled), an e-Golf runs at equivalent CO2 to 149 mpg in a diesel.

The United States is Mazda's biggest market, and in 2015 ('16 data isn't available yet) their national average electricity would run an 87 mpg equivalent. If it's improved at the same rate our grid has, it'll now be over 108.

8 August 2017

.....including the emissions from the power stations that generate the electricity.

Steam cars are due a revival.

8 August 2017
Vertigo wrote:

They'll need a hell of a lot more than 30% higher efficiency to beat the emissions of electric cars - on the 2016 British grid mix, EVs produce about a third of the CO2 of a typical combustion engine. Sounds like an attempt to justify being one of the only manufacturers left without an EV on sale or imminently so.

A third is 33%, I am not sure you are aware of that, so 30% is not far off that, so they only need a little bit more, not a hell off a lot more, me thinks you might be an EV driver trying to justify your purchase..  

8 August 2017
Citytiger wrote:

A third is 33%, I am not sure you are aware of that, so 30% is not far off that, so they only need a little bit more, not a hell off a lot more, me thinks you might be an EV driver trying to justify your purchase..  

A third of 100 grams = 33.

A 30% reduction to 100 grams = 70.

8 August 2017

Because it doesn't mean anything - it doesn't relate to any particular technology like for example Honda's VTEC with variable valve timing. Why don't they just label it SCC!? 

At least this spark controlled compression ignition system sounds interesting, but I'd be interested to know how they address problems of refinement and NOx emissions which always seem to occur when you have very efficient and fast combustion? 

8 August 2017

Mazda says it means light weight, SPECIALLY shaped pistons, 4 into 1 manifolds etc.  Apparently BMW, VW used to use animal shaped pistons (cats and dogs shapes were popular) because they never thought it mattered. 

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

8 August 2017

Bit like VW with their terminology "Bluemotion". I've never had a blue motion in my life, and if I did I'd be straight down the doctors.

 

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