It was a bold move by Mazda to ignore hybrid vehicles in favor of improvements to traditional combustion engines, but the gambit has paid off. Mazda already has the most-efficient line of new cars in America, and the next-generation of SkyActiv engines could improve efficiency another 30%.
The sequel to the so-far-successful line of SkyActiv engines will be called SkyActiv 2, and will continue to build on the success Mazda has found with technology that boosts both fuel economy and performance. With its innovative i-Eloop supercapacitor system, the 2014 Mazda6 mid-size sedan gets a hybrid-like 40 MPG on the highway. A 30% improvement would put the same car well into the 50 MPG range, and Mazda says it’ll be possible right around 2020, which is when a new wave of strict European emissions requirements kick in.
The key, say Mazda execs, is improvements in lean-burning engines. While direct injection has allowed for higher compression ratios of up to 14:1 in Mazda’s gas-burning engines, engineers want to go even further, seeking an insane 18:1 compression ratio, which is usually restricted to diesel engines and race cars. The higher the compression, the less fuel needed to produce power, which results in drastically lower emissions, all without compromising performance. And we haven’t even seen the Mazda6 with the 2.2 liter turbodiesel in action yet, though at an estimated 45 MPG, a 30% improvement in efficiency would put the diesel Mazda over 60 MPG on the highway, canceling out the need for costly hybrid drivetrains.
At least that’s the idea.
Even so, Mazda already has plans to introduce hybrid versions of the compact Mazda3, and it is also testing a hydrogen-powered plug-in hybrid using a rotary engine as well, just in case gas-only engines don’t cut it. The automaker has even dabbled in pure-electric vehicles. But so far, super-efficient gas engines are proving popular with consumers and reviewers alike, and if Mazda can keep up the momentum, it won’t have to bother with any sort of alternatives.
Source: Automotive News