It seems everyone sees electric and hybrid engines as the only means of propulsion for future vehicles. The Government are keen to see this fulfilled too. Mazda however, have taken a different view on the car of the future and have released their plans for what they call ‘Skyactiv-X’.
This is the result of a huge breakthrough in the technology used in the internal combustion engine. This new system doesn’t require spark plugs as the fuel-air mixture is ignited spontaneously when compressed by the piston. According to the Japanese car manufacturer, ‘a proprietary combustion method called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition overcomes two issues that had impeded commercialisation of compression ignition gasoline engines: maximizing the zone in which compression ignition is possible and achieving a seamless transition between compression ignition and spark ignition.’
The new engine can supposedly improve fuel efficiency by up to 30 percent, by Mazda’s calculations this would make it produce lower carbon emissions than an electric vehicle in terms of ‘well-to-wheel’; which accounts for the whole lifecycle of the vehicle and the fuel needed to power it.
The argument is that infrastructure across the globe wouldn’t be able to cope with the demands of charging all of these electric vehicles daily, therefore this highly efficient engine could prove a better alternative as it inevitably becomes more efficient.
But giving up on ICE altogether is not part of the game-plan for Mazda, it seems.
“Some areas like Scandinavia [EV] works well, but think about the global situation. We still use the internal combustion engine globally and of course we can make it more efficient. Of course, we need the support of electrification and electric devices to make it more efficient, but the “support” area is getting smaller if we have a very good combustion engine.”
“I think everyone in the automotive world was concerned with the future of internal combustion engines, obviously we all want a better planet for our children, but EVs aren’t always as green as we assume. The metal used in the batteries is extremely hard to extract and sourcing it is very labour intensive. Mazda have definitely given other manufacturers something to consider as altering their current engines will be far cheaper than redesigning their cars and building new engines to comply with tight regulations.” John Yarmouth, East Midlands Car Centre.