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March 9, 2018

A Lot Left In The Internal Combustion Engine: Mazda Hedges Bet on Gasoline, Diesel Engines

As Mazda looks to its next-generation of vehicles, they are still looking to improve existing ones in the pursuit of advancing driving pleasure. Announcing their long-term Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 plan last year, Mazda is now looking at vehicles from a “Well-to-Wheel” approach.

With that, they’ll see things from a bigger picture. Instead of just cutting emissions during driving, they consider the fuel source of a vehicle as well as its manufacture, assembly, and even disposal. Thus, they see that plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and electric vehicles (EV) as viable only if the method of generating electricity is through clean and renewable means. Mazda believes that the internal combustion engine (ICE) can still stand toe-to-toe with electric vehicles in terms of overall emissions.

Currently, the carmaker is now looking at ways to improve their fuel efficiency not just on a standard test cycle (US EPA, Japan JC08), but in real world situations as well. For instance, they have tested their vehicles’ fuel consumption and emission figures in real-world situations not commonly covered by test cycles. They have done tests in extremely hot and cold climates, hilly roads, and even at a vehicle’s maximum laden weight. A perfect example of their efforts is how the CX-3 manages to exceed the United Nations’ Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Test Cycle (WLTC), which supposedly gives a more realistic fuel economy figure compared to other standards.

Moving forward, the company is now looking at updating its entire Skyactiv engine family alongside the headline-grabbing Skyactiv-X.

This year, the updated Skyactiv-G features improved knock resistance, better thermal management, increased torque, and cleaner emissions via a new direct injection system. Furthermore, the 2.5-liter variant will now get cylinder deactivation. Using hydraulic lash adjusters, this engine is even more efficient than a 1.0-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine in stop-and-go traffic.

The revamped Skyactiv-G will be rolled out with the 2018 Mazda6 and CX-5 first in Japan with the rest of the world to follow soon thereafter.

Meanwhile, Mazda hasn’t given up on improving its diesel engine even further. Despite diesel’s bad reputation, especially in Europe, the carmaker is moving forward to tweak its Skyactiv-D further even as the second-generation is expected to arrive in two years’ time. Adopting Rapid Multi-Stage Combustion, fuel spray is divided into more segments more finely resulting in better emissions and lower noise. The addition of a new variable geometry turbocharger on its twin-turbo set-up also makes it more responsive and smoother, especially at higher rpms.

The company’s newest 7-seater crossover, the CX-8 features this revised engine.

Together with these improved drivetrains, Mazda aims to offer vehicles with better static and dynamic qualities. Its newest Mazda6 and CX-8, for example, have a high-quality, almost hand-made feel to them. And with improvements also done to NVH insulation, the small carmaker from Hiroshima is targeting to increase the comfort levels of their cars even more.

Mazda’s unconventional way of thinking means they’re not ready to give up on the internal combustion engine yet. After Skyactiv-X, engineers will focus their attention on Skyactiv-3 which is said to be as clean as an EV vehicle when looked at from a well-to-wheel approach.

Skyactiv-3 has a lofty goal of increasing their gasoline engine’s thermal efficiency to 56 percent (a 27 percent jump from the current Skyactiv-G). This will make it the most thermally-efficient internal combustion in the world (even more thermally efficient than the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 engine) and the first that will be able to convert a majority of its fuel’s energy into power, rather than waste it on friction or heat loss.

With the continuous improvements to their current Skyactiv-G and Skyactiv-D engines as well as the introduction of cutting-edge ones such as the Skyactiv-X and even the Skyactiv-3 after that, there seems to have a lot of life left in the internal combustion engine. And everyone will have to thank Mazda’s unconventional approach for that.


  1. Let's be real here, the carbon footprint in making batteries for electric vehicles and the source of the electricity to power those vehicles are still relative to normal gasoline engines. Not to mention that the cost of EV's at the moment. Even if the government impose tax exemptions on hybrids and EV's, typical gasoline/diesel cars will still be a lot cheaper.

    Here in the Philippines, EV's won't be mainstream until around 2050, which is a long period of time way. They should first build more hydroelectric dams, windmills, geothermal plants and other types of renewable energy sources for EV's to be feasible en mass here.

  2. Internal combustion is dead or dying. Everyone is moving to electric and Mazda is sticking to a dying technology much like Nokia did. Within the next decade, prices will come down by half

    1. ^Lol at this guy. Cars are getting expensive year by year, mostly due to inflation.

  3. By 2050 we will be having modular vehicles. Much like the 12v 24v 36v ride on toys. Rofl

  4. 10 years ago electric cars were really slow. Now they're faster than supercars. They say that in the next 10 years electric cars will be cheaper to make than traditional combustion engines. With train law raising tax on gas to P10 over the next few years, combustion engines will slowly be uneconomical


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