By on January 8, 2014


While other automakers explore hybrids and new tech in their pursuit of better fuel economy, Mazda is concentrating on refining the more than century old internal combustion engine. The automaker told Automotive News says that it expects to achieve 30% better mileage with its next generation of ICEs than the fuel economy of its relatively new line of Skyactiv engines currently being rolled out. Called Skyactive 2, the next gen gasoline and diesel engines will debut around 2020, according to Mitsuo Hitomi, who heads Mazda’s powertrain development. “If we want to dramatically improve fuel economy from here, the only route is through lean burning,” Hitomi said at briefing at Mazda’s Yokohama technical center.

Hitomi said Mazda is driven by a need to meet tougher European carbon dioxide emissions standards of 95 grams per kilometer in 2020 and 65 grams per kilometer in 2025. “The next step is the 2020 European regulations,” Hitomi said. “[Skyactiv 2] must help us with that.”

Mazda’s current gasoline Skyactiv motors, which are still propagating across the automaker’s lineup, got their improved fuel economy by by pairing direct injection with higher compression ratios, allowing a leaner fuel/air mixture.

In the second generation of Skyactiv engines Mazda will increase the gasoline engines’ compression ratio to 18:1, from a current level of 14:1, the highest currently used by a major automaker. The Skyactiv 2 gasoline engine will also use homogeneous charge compression ignition, HCCI, essentially sparkless compression ignition as used in diesel engines. HCCI engines have more complete fuel combustion and lower emissions of nitrogen oxide.

Mazda says that with HCCI the Skyactiv 2 engines will be efficient enough that the company can avoid the use of CVTs or expensive multispeed automatic transmissions.

Barriers still remain to implementing HCCI in a practical automobile engine, particularly getting the system to work well at a broad range of RPMs with a variety of commercial gasoline blends as well as controlling engine and fuel temperatures.

In November, Mazda’s new CEO Masamichi Kogai said that Mazda is pursuing a goal of refining the internal combustion engine because dramatic results can be achieved cost effectively with proven technologies. “We will base it on the internal combustion engine and that’s where we will put the emphasis,” Kogai said. “The evolution [of Skyactiv 2] will be the same degree as the first generation.

Hitomi also indicated that a Skyactiv 3 lineup is planned to meet the 2025 standards. Hitomi said that future engine will have a system that will limit the fluctuation of heat in the combustion chamber to reduce losses from exhaust and cooling making more energy available to the wheels.

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33 Comments on “Mazda Says Skyactiv 2 Engines Will Debut Around 2020 & Boost Fuel Economy 30%...”

  • avatar

    Talk about “vaporware”

    • 0 avatar

      With the current Skyactiv engines and other technologies they can get class leading fuel economy without using CVT’s. They are known for their engineering prowess. So why the stupid comment?

    • 0 avatar

      you are a idiot. Mazdas sky engines are great, and with enough market capital and research this is totally doable. If diesels and do it so can a gas engine with the right work and the right tech.

      i predict the total elimination of intake valves for this to work. instead you will have a intake port about 1/6th the size that will ‘jet in’ compressed air and that port will also inject the gas. with 2 or more ports recessed into the heads and or cylinder walls you can control the amount of air to the micro-gram and control the swirl in the cylinder in ways current tech only dreams about. could be done now but it is spendy to get to market. looks like mazda will beat them to it..

      good for them.

    • 0 avatar

      Bill: My offbeat sense of humor reads your post as a pun on the main role of ICE technology – combustion of vaporized gasoline.

  • avatar

    How about a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) option?

  • avatar

    Not just for Mazda’s developments, but: How long with these fancy bits last? 50k miles? 150k? In what kinds of climate? Are they tested to 150F to -50F… more than once, at 10 years old? The repairs/replacement of all these new “wear items” will surely kill fuel economy savings. It’s scary world coming.

    • 0 avatar
      Frankie the Hollywood Scum

      We do not know all the details to understand the durability risks. Lean combustion is well understood and as you get much leaner the component temperatures go down which is good for life. Like you said the real risk here seems to be the control system and making everything work in the real world. 6 years is also an eternity in automotive development so Mazda must be quite confident to make this announcement.

      I hope they succeed. Occam’s razor and all.

  • avatar

    The 14:1 compression ratio is only available in international markets. In the US, it’s 13:1 due to differences in gasoline. That combined with the comment regarding meeting Euro standards might make one wonder if the US will get these engines.

    And please, let’s not use RPM in the plural. It’s just as easy to say: “getting the system to work well across a broad RPM range.”

    • 0 avatar

      Gasoline isn’t different but the way we rate octane is. Same stuff different number. 87 here is 91 in Europe. My guess is with 14 to 1 these engines require mid grade / maybe premium in Europe.

      Americans hate using anything but 87. It’s an end user problem not a gasoline problem.

    • 0 avatar

      The Euro standard is the target because it’s the toughest one to meet — it’s like CAFE on steroids, and it will be a challenge for a company that avoids hybrids and EVs to comply with it.

      Mazda doesn’t have the money to offer a wide variety of engines. A US motor would probably have somewhat different (lower) specs so that it can operate on lower octane fuel, but would otherwise be the same.

    • 0 avatar

      What about “em-pee-gees”?

  • avatar

    So the CVT is dead? Yay!

  • avatar

    yah, when I was looking to buy a new car last year, I was looking down my nose at some of these new technologies…. Direct injection, CVT, even Mazdas new fancy automatic transmissions…… Although it sure did shift nice.

    I ended up with the 2.4 in an Acura, but I would have been more happy with the toned down version that Honda sells in the CRV, and Accord.

    Old, Proven Technology.

    Mazda have anything to say about rust prevention these days?

    I like their cars, but they just don’t hold up well over time in my climate.

  • avatar

    I will never understand companies who pre-announce something like this a full SIX YEARS before they intend to bring it to market.

    Put up or shut up.

  • avatar

    This must be the assisted living section.

  • avatar

    Mercedes Benz experimented with a “detonation” motor a few years back. I think they got it to work but it was limited, and, they tried to do both normal burn and detonation alternately.
    It seems odd that for the life time of the gasoline engine engineers have been trying to avoid “detonation” and now they want to harness it. Lessons from Diesel tech I guess.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s pre-detonation what throws your rods through your engine block. Direct injection changes the game. With direct injections, there’s nothing to detonate until it’s time to go off. High compression ratios (and turbos) are dangerous because of the risk of pre-detonation, at least with traditional fuel delivery. Most DI engines still use spark plugs, but why not just crank the compression until you get reliable detonation when the fuel arrives and skip the plugs?

      • 0 avatar

        “The Skyactiv 2 gasoline engine will also use homogeneous charge compression ignition, HCCI, essentially sparkless compression ignition as used in diesel engines”
        I know what Direct injection is, this is not it. pre-detonation, pinking, detonation are all the same thing. It is when a lean burning gas motor running a high compression causes the fuel to detonate (like a diesel) before the spark can cause the fuel to burn (normal for a gas engine). The extra energy will destroy (throw rods) the motor unless the motor is designed for it. Mazda seem to want to do that. Actually rod throwing is very extreme. Most often constant pinking will lead to firstly overheating, then excessive engine wear, bearings, valves, rings, cylinder wall damage and pitting of the piston

        • 0 avatar

          First off there’s no “extra” energy from pre-detonation. It’s the same fuel and air, but it happens before the piston is positioned for a down stroke and tries to spin the motor backwards, and that’s what causes you to throw a rod. But it’s impossible to detonate your fuel if the fuel isn’t delivered until the piston is in the right place. Which is impossible with a carb or with traditional fuel injection. The current Skyactive engines can run high compression ratios and lean charges without fear of pre-detonation because they use direct injection. The next generation ones will be able to run without spark plugs because they’ll use such high compression rations that the fuel will detonate immediately when its injected. I’m not saying it’s the same thing as DI, I’m saying that DI makes it possible. I’m not familiar with the Mercedes experimental engine you mentioned, but if it’s more than a few years back, it probably didn’t have DI, or the technology was not mature enough.

  • avatar

    2020??? Seems like a long time to get “only” 30% gain. If they can do this with a much cheaper engine and thus lower price car, that’s one thing but Mazda cars are just as expensive as Honda, Toyota and the Korean cars. I finally surrendered and bought my 2013 Mazda 5 this past December (with a $5,000 savings by the way) when I found out Mazda doesn’t have enough Skyactiv to put into their 2014 Mazda 5. If we didn’t have children, I would have gone for the Honda Accord Hybrid. Seems like Mazda just doesn’t have enough financial resources to develop new technologies.

    • 0 avatar

      They do have limited resources which have recently been spent on the new range of engines, transmissions and platforms. Their key products are pretty new. They do need a larger output engine for the Speed line and the CX9 – unless they buy one in from someone else.

  • avatar

    While there’s something quite interesting about how they keep trying to make gasoline engines more and more efficient, why can’t they just start importing more diesels? The fuel economy should be a lot better right off the bat, without the need for constant changes and additional complicated engineering. The diesel stuff will also be reliable, while people are rightfully concerned about the reliability of this tech. This kind of R&D must have similar costs to just federalizing existing diesels, without the same kind of bump in marketing MPGs.

    So much complication for complication’s sake.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah yes, so you haven’t heard of diesel DPF regen problems? My friend now curses the day he signed the lease for his Golf TDI. And Mazda are still not bringing their SkyActiv diesel to North America – that’s the one that “manufactures” extra oil for the pan when it squirts in extra fuel to burn off the soot in the DPF.

      Apparently, they cannot get the system calibrated properly, so don’t want to be hit by bad publicity and loss of cred in the litigious US. You won’t see that diesel until the problem is pretty well solved. On the other hand, perhaps they are learning more about lean burn as they pursue their diesel problems.

      • 0 avatar

        Is the SkyActiv diesel using lean NOx trap (i.e. LNT or a NOx adsorber catalyst) as their emissions control strategy? LNT requires more post-combustion injection to light off the catalyst and perform a DeNOx regeneration, hence the fuel dilution in the oil. One way to solve it is with the added cost/complication of a downstream “doser” (or injector) ahead of the catalyst so that you don’t have to fire the main injectors in the cylinders to provide the fuel needed to light off the catalyst. The other way to solve it is to simply scrap the LNT system and switch to Selective Catalytic Reduction or SCR (i.e. diesel exhaust fluid).

  • avatar

    Given two TTAC articles noting serious issues with D.I. engines:

    – expensive to remedy intake valve carbon buildup afflicting many direct inject engines.


    – the dirty exhaust of direct inject engines

    I think I will run the other way when any one tries to extoll to me the virtues of their new direct injection technology.

    • 0 avatar

      No… not direct injection… Besides, like many new technologies, give it a bit of time, Hell, Fuel injection was not with out issues when it fist arrived and now there are no more carburetor engines made but cars are more reliable than ever before!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    At least they’re not talking crazy about hydrogen fuel cells.

  • avatar

    “HCCI engines have more complete fuel combustion and lower emissions of nitrogen oxide”

    Under perfect conditions (Water – CO2 – N) which they won’t be able to meet to pass future emissions reliably without expensive before/after-treatment apparatus. Mazda should start to concentrate on markets outside of failing Socialist/Fascist USA and Europe where EV, Hybrid, Hydrogen are the only options for the top 20% of the politically-connected thugs.

  • avatar

    I find this a smarter strategy by applying it to all models sold not just a select few (i.e. hybrids or HFE models). For instance, if Toyota (and especially Honda) instead 14 years ago focused their money and efforts on constantly improving their drivetrains and powerplants (remember the Corolla still has a 4 speed auto) the CAFE rating would actually higher and all their customers would get great mpg for their class of vehicle (instead of having to buy a hybrid). Toyota sells almost 60k Camrys and Corollas a month which alone is 6x more than the Prius and Toyota makes more money on the former non hybrid models. The engine / drivetrains from the Camry and Corolla are also present throughout most of their lineup. Volume with moderate gains in efficiency for all models would have a greater affect in reality than small volume with high gains. But the PR machine wins out in this case.

    Mazda seems to have become what Honda was – a smaller company that does things differently – most of their line up is fun to drive and often on the smaller scale and less portly. Their average age is lower than their competition. They also spend their time racing in cars more closely aligned with production vehicles that they can engineer to improve their actual lineup.

    Also for HCCI – Honda and Mercedes Benz were working on it many years ago and could not justify it. They found it was only feasible in a certain RPM range and would not work the higher the RPM needed and they had to rely on spark ignition (gasoline is not really all that great of a compression ignition fuel compared to diesel which is much more stable). They found that the increase in mpg could not offset the addition cost of the HCCI and still have the need for spark ignition. This was also when Honda was behind the curve on direct injection and CVT technologies that may have helped overcome these issues as I think Honda was too busy putting it’s full brain trust to play hybrid catchup with Toyota and ignoring everything including their volume sellers. Mercedes instead kept to the easy path for compression ignition with diesels which were often the class leaders in mpg.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota responded to the financial crisis with extreme caution — it would seem that the company was planning for a depression or prolonged, deep crash. That impacted its R&D choices, not necessarily for the better; it will take another product cycle to clear the debris.

      Mazda completed its divorce from Ford, and had no choice but to create new products. With the rising tide of fuel economy regulations and no money to develop mass market hybrids, that puts Mazda in the position of trying to squeeze what it can out of internal combustion.

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