Spark-free SkyActiv: Mazda Seems Well Prepared for the Future, Without Electricity's Help

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
spark free skyactiv mazda seems well prepared for the future without electricity s

While it wasn’t the only car company to make use of a rotary engine, it was certainly the only one to be competitive with them when pistons and pushrods would easily have sufficed. However, those days are gone. Mazda’s SkyActiv technology is well suited for squeezing out an engine’s true potential, but it doesn’t feel particularly quirky or unique.

That could change with the company’s second generation of SkyActiv engines. Mazda is one of only two automakers planning to introduce a motor with homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) sometime next year. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s a direct-injection gasoline-powered motor that uses compression, not spark, to ignite fuel — something typically reserved for diesel powerplants.

Mazda expects the HCCI engine to yield a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy over a similarly-sized conventional internal combustion unit. The new engine should debut in the Mazda 3 as part of its mid-cycle refresh in 2018, and then expand into other models.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the second generation SkyActiv engines should give the Mazda3 fuel economy “approaching 30 km per liter.” While only a rough estimate, that equates to over 70 miles to the gallon — enough to put hyper-mile hybrids to shame and meet stringent CAFE standards.

Of course, Mazda also plans to mass produce an electric vehicle by 2019 while it procrastinates on a plug-in hybrid until 2021. The company also remains committed to bringing its extremely emission-friendly Skyactiv diesel to the North American market.

[Image: Mazda]

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  • Sgt Beavis Sgt Beavis on Jan 16, 2017

    WoW and Good on Mazda. So many companies had been working on this yet Mazda is cracking the nut first.

    • Sutherland555 Sutherland555 on Jan 17, 2017

      As someone who has drunk the Mazda koolaid, I think they've done pretty incredible bits of engineering since Ford sold their shares. They're a tiny company working with pretty limited resources coming up with advances in the ICE on par or better than much larger companies. Even if you don't like their cars, there's still a lot to admire about them as a company.

  • Skor Skor on Jan 16, 2017

    Will by outlawed by the Trump administration a few days after he is inaugurated.

  • Jpolicke Jpolicke on Jan 16, 2017

    Turbo, DPF, Adblue, all the baggage of a diesel on an unproven engine design. I think I'll wait for a while.

    • See 3 previous
    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jan 17, 2017

      @jpolicke Well, yeah of course they fail but they last as long as everything else. I mean my heart is going to fail one day, but on a whole they are pretty reliable.

  • Redmondjp Redmondjp on Jan 17, 2017

    It's going to be really interesting to see if they can pull this off. From what I've read, HCCI engines really like to run at a constant speed, making them ideal for a series-parallel hybrid or for use with a CVT.