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Mazda's engine breakthrough promises big fuel efficiency gains

Mazda says it's nailed the compression-ignition gasoline engine.
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Albertoadan

Mazda has made the announcement car manufacturers have been working towards for years: it's releasing the first commercial compression-ignition gasoline engine. Dubbed SkyActiv-X, the engine will be available in 2019 and promises up to 20-30% more engine efficiency than the current SkyActiv-G, and up to 45% more than Mazda's 2008 petrol engine.

Current gasoline engines rely on a spark plug to ignite their air-fuel mix. The SkyActiv-X will ignite the air-fuel mix spark-free through compression, like a diesel engine. This, according to the Japanese manufacturer, combines the advantages of petrol and diesel engines to achieve "outstanding" environmental and power performance.

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The announcement comes just days after the company laid out its billion-dollar plans to build electric vehicles with Toyota. Speaking to reporters, Mazda's head of R&D Kiyoshi Fujiwara said that while "electrification is necessary ... the internal combustion engine should come first". Electrification and emissions minimization is a major focus of Mazda's Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 plan, and technically SkyActive-X falls into this remit, given its advances in efficiency. But it's still a technology reliant on natural resources. Mazda's electric vehicles and its SkyActiv-X engine take sustainability in very different directions, so it will be interesting to see if, and how, these roads eventually converge.

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