A New Engine from Mazda with no spark plugs?
Published Date: 19th Jan 2017
The Japanese car maker, Mazda, is going to introduce a new engine to the range at the end of 2018 that can generate 30% better fuel economy by using pressure, without a spark plug in sight, to ignite the fuel.
While Mazda is still developing environmentally friendly vehicles with zero emissions for the future, they also believe that petrol power will still be around. They foresee that gasoline powered, internal combustion engines will still remain popular for the lion’s share of new cars and this new technology will give them an edge on the competition.
The First of the model range to get the upgrade will be the new 2018 Mazda 3 with its first major overhaul in 5 years. The engine will then be adopted across the range as newer model upgrades come out. The manufacturer positions the efficient engine as the successor to the current generation of the Skyactiv environmentally friendly engine technologies, which first appeared in 2011.
How does this new Mazda engine work?
This will be the first practical application of this new technology, called homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI). This new spark-less combustion cycle ignites the air and fuel mix in the cylinder by applying pressure instead of a spark at the very top of the combustion cycle, which is rather like the process used in diesel engines.
The engineers at Mazda say this process is far more efficient at reducing Co2 g/km and can produce more power from a smaller engine. The whole HCCI process has been tried and tested by many manufacturers including General Motors, Mercedes Benz, Hyundai and Volkswagen with none of their prototypes making it to the production line. They probably shelved the ideas while they work on all electric and hybrid solutions.
The main issue with a compression ignition system using petrol is how extremely flammable it is when compared to diesel. This makes compression ignition using such a volatile fuel, very unpredictable. Mazda haven’t released any details on longevity or driveability but we can be assured they’ve mastered the new system as they plan to install it in their very own best seller, the Mazda 3.
The current future as seen by the Mazda is electric however they also see developing countries as an opportunity to bring in affordable lower emission cars. These won’t break the bank when compared to the prices of the latest all electric or hybrid vehicles already on offer from other manufacturers.
This doesn’t mean that Mazda is giving up on electric altogether as they’ve collaborated with Toyota. This new partnership means that Mazda can concentrate these highly efficient petrol engines and Toyota free to concentrate on the next generation of battery technology for hybrid and electric cars. So in the not too distant future you will see a Toyota utilising the same spark plug-less motor in their cars and vice versa for the battery technology with Mazda.
Mazda currently have no hybrid or electric vehicles for purchase but plan to release their first EV as early as 2019 and plug-in hybrid models from 2021.