Hoping to improve upon the success of the Mazda Skyactiv engines currently being introduced across the its lineup, Mazda has begun research into new Skyactiv 2 engine technology that will shoot for 30 percent better fuel economy by 2020, according to Automotive News.
The improved line of second-generation Skyactiv engines is intended to meet more stringent European emissions standards on the horizon — carbon dioxide emissions will be regulated to a maximum of 95 grams per kilometer in 2020 and 65 grams per kilometer by 2025. Mazda Skyactiv 3 engine technology is also in development, meant to meet the 2025 regulations, that will seek to retain more energy usually lost from exhaust and cooling by limiting the fluctuation of heat during combustion.
First appearing in 2011 in the Mazda 3 and later in the Mazda CX-5 crossover, 6 sedan, and all-new 2014 3, Mazda Skyactiv engines match direct injection with a high compression ratio for impressive fuel economy. As other automakers invest more heavily in hybrid and electric technologies, Mazda will aim to take a more traditional approach by maximizing performance and refinement in its diesel and gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. The Skyactiv 2 engines will have an 18:1 compression ratio, which will require even less fuel to achieve the necessary heat for combustion.
"If we want to dramatically improve fuel economy from here, the only route is through lean burning," Mazda’s powertrain development executive officer Mitsuo Hitomi told Automotive News.
Mazda Skyactiv 2 engines will feature an ignition method known as HCCl (homogenous charge compression ignition) which employs high pressure and temperature in the combustion chamber to ignite the fuel-air mixture, rather than spark plug. Also being tested by Hyundai, the technology faces multiple engineering issues throughout development, but a successful HCCl system would mean that Mazda could achieve competitive efficiency without needing to use a modern eight-speed automatic or continuously variable transmission. Similar to how combustion in a diesel engine works, HCCl ignition also lowers emissions such as nitrogen oxide.
If Mazda can make the same strides the second time around as it did with the first line of Skyactiv engines, as CEO Masamichi Kogai has promised, it would say a lot about the potential to refine and improve internal combustion amidst a rampant push in the community toward hybrid and electric technologies. Stay tuned for more details on the future of Mazda’s Skyactiv engines, the next of which will appear in the redesigned 2 hatchback and the forthcoming Mazda MX-5 roadster.