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LA show: Mazda prioritises combustion engines

X factor: Mazda will roll out its new SkyActiv-X engine when it launches the new-gen Mazda3 next year.

EV coming in 2020 but Mazda believes in future of internal combustion engines

Mazda logo3 Dec 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in LOS ANGELES

MAZDA says it remains committed to internal combustion engines, despite the fact that most of its direct competitors pouring millions of research and development dollars into battery electric powertrains.
 
The Japanese car-maker says it will have a full EV in the market by 2020, but it has kept a low profile in the electrification space compared with many of its rivals – including Volkswagen, Nissan and Hyundai, among others – that have confirmed the rollout of multiple EVs in the coming years.
 
Speaking with Australian journalists at last week’s Los Angeles motor show, Mazda Motor Corporation (MMC) managing executive officer of powertrain development Ichiro Hirose said powertrain technology would be determined by the needs of different markets.
 
“When we think about the reduction of CO2 emissions and the scale of the earth, we have to look at how the power is generated in each region,” he said. “Each region has a different method of electricity generation.
 
“Some regions (have) clean energy sources, therefore EV is a good fit. But for other regions, due to power generation methods, internal combustion engines may have more advantages in terms of CO2 emissions. 
 
“When we think about total CO2 reductions, I think there are more regions where internal combustion engines are a better fit than the region where EVs are fitting. For the time being I think we should still focus on internal combustion.”
 
Mazda continues to pour money into diesel engine development, despite a wider global trend that has seen a number of brands move away from diesel power.
 
The Japanese car-maker will launch, with the new-generation Mazda3, its all-new SkyActiv-X petrol engine that is said to offer the best of diesel and petrol powertrain characteristics.
 
However, Mr Hirose said Mazda still sees diesel engine tech as part of its long-term future.
 
“Actually, for the diesel engine, we are continuously working on that in order to achieve the ideal diesel engine. 
 
“Especially these days, SUVs are quite popular. That means vehicles are bigger and heavier and for that type of vehicle, in terms of the reduction of CO2, these engines have the advantage.”
 
As part of the LA show reveal of the new-generation Mazda3, the car-maker announced that its new SkyActiv-X powertrain – that will debut in the Mazda3 in the third quarter of next year – will feature some mild hybrid technology.
 
However, Mr Hirose said that the so-called M Hybrid system will be rolled out to Mazda’s other powertrains beyond the SkyActiv-X.
 
“The M Hybrid system is not only available with the combination (of) SkyActiv-X engine. It can also be available with current SkyActiv-G, but it depends on which market or destination – it depends on the markets.
 
“What we have this time for M Hybrid – normally there is this alternator location for the crank pulley at the front end. This is where we have this belt-driven ISG (integrated starter generator) system.
 
“It has a 24-volt lithium-ion battery and the regenerated kinetic energy is combined into the power.”
 
As reported, Mazda’s SkyActiv-X engine is fitted with compression ignition tech and a supercharger, which the company says boosts fuel economy and can lift torque output by 10 to 30 per cent compared with the SkyActiv-G.
 
Meanwhile, MMC president and CEO Akira Marumoto put the final nail in the coffin for Mazda’s defunct go-fast MPS sub brand, confirming that it was not a priority.
 
“Mazda is a small player,” he said at the LA show last week. “That particular segment has a high priority for Mazda? My answer is no. Therefore, we are not planning MPS either.”

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