ReutersTOKYO (Reuters) — Mazda Motor Corp. said it would become the world’s first automaker to commercialize a much more efficient petrol engine using technology that deep-pocketed rivals have been trying to engineer for decades, a twist in an industry increasingly going electric.
The new compression ignition engine is 20 percent to 30 percent more fuel efficient than the automaker’s current engines and uses a technology that has eluded the likes of Daimler AG and General Motors Co.
Mazda, with a research and development budget a fraction of those of major peers, said it plans to sell cars with the new engine from 2019.
“It’s a major breakthrough,” said Ryoji Miyashita, chairman of automotive engineering company AEMSS Inc.
The announcement places traditional engines at the center of Mazda’s strategy and comes just days after Mazda said it will work with Toyota Motor Corp. to develop electric vehicles and build a $1.6 billion U.S. assembly plant.
“We think it is an imperative and fundamental job for us to pursue the ideal internal combustion engine,” Mazda R&D head Kiyoshi Fujiwara told reporters. “Electrification is necessary but ... the internal combustion engine should come first.”
A homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine ignites petrol through compression, eliminating spark plugs.
Its fuel economy potentially matches that of a diesel engine without high emissions of nitrogen oxides or sooty particulates.
Mazda’s engine employs spark plugs under certain conditions, such as at low temperatures, to overcome technical hurdles that have hampered commercialisation of the technology.