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Is Mazda the smallest and most fiercely independent car maker in Japan?

POSTED BY Yamin Vong ON 25 October 2017

Arguably, it’s Mazda.

We witness this again today at the Tokyo Motor Show where it unveiled the SkyActiv-X engine, the first commercial iteration of a combined compression and spark ignition engine.

And why do I say again? Remember that Mazda is the only car maker that championed and continued developing the rotary Wankel engine.

Coming back to the SkyActiv-X engine, this is not new technology as the world has seen similar forms, including the Diesotto – a conjugation of Rudolf Diesel’s compression ignition engine and Nikolaus Otto’s spark ignition engine.

Think of the SkyActiv-X engine as a petrol engine that is ignited by compression ignition. There is a spark plug for each cylinder to control the compression ignition.

This technology was also demonstrated by Mercedes-Benz in its 2010 event – Road to the Future – where we were driven in a Mercedes-Benz F700 concept that was powered by a prototype Diesotto engine.

Here, Mazda again demonstrates its innovative spirit by being the first to develop a commercial production of the SkyActiv-X which will make its first appearance as a 2.0-litre engine, combining the best of the diesel and the petrol engine.

“This engine will be available as an option on all Mazda passenger cars in the near future,” said Masamichi Kogai, representative director, president and chief executive officer of Mazda Motor Corporation in a statement released in conjunction with the Tokyo Motor Show.

Mazda argues that the best way forward for global sustainable mobility and reducing carbon footprint from a total well-to-wheel perspective is to continue improving the internal combustion for the immediate and medium term future.

The advantages of the SkyActiv-X is lower fuel consumption than a regular petrol engine while producing as much torque as a diesel engine.

It’s happier with 92 Ron than 95 Ron and with its high compression hybrid ignition, “it produces almost no NOx (nitrogen oxide),” said Ichiro Hirose, managing executive officer of Mazda Motor Corporation, who is in charge of power train development, vehicle development and product planning. He was presenting the SkyActiv-X engine at the media event on the eve of the Tokyo Motor Show.

Mazda’s view is that internal combustion engines (ICE) will power the majority of vehicles globally for many years to come and improvements to ICE can make the biggest contributions towards reducing carbon footprint.

For the industry to reduce carbon footprint, we should evaluate carbon emissions from the energy generation stage, not only while driving.

This means to consider well-to-wheel rather than fuel tank-to-wheel.

Mazda forecasts that electrification including hybrids and plug-in hybrids and fuel cells will only start to make inroads into lowering carbon emissions from 2035.

But that’s not to say that Mazda is pushing away electrification. Their new vehicle architecture is said to provide space for battery packs for hybrid versions in the near future. Could this make an appearance at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show?

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