Mazda Product Planning Puts an Internal Combustion Engine Under the Hood of Your Mazda CX-5 in 2050

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
mazda product planning puts an internal combustion engine under the hood of your

Full autonomy by 2020? An all-electric automotive portfolio by 2025? Not at Mazda, where deputy general manager for product, Kenichiro Saruwatari, says the internal combustion engine will be a part of Mazda’s lineup for at least another three decades.

“We need to have the internal combustion engine,” Saruwatri told Motoring. “Even beyond 2050 we will still utilise the combustion engine.”

But just because Mazda’s plans for the future aren’t limited to hybrids, EVs, and fuel cell vehicles doesn’t mean the engines under the hood of your 2050 Mazda CX-5 will resemble the engines of today.

In fact, we expect to very shortly see the first production implementation of Mazda’s homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine. In theory, adapting some diesel techniques to a gas-fired engine could decrease fuel consumption by 30 percent. That translates to a Mazda CX-5 that now travels 26 miles per gallon, for example, becoming a Mazda CX-5 that could travel 37 miles per gallon.

Mazda is clearly not the only automaker seeing big gains with the internal combustion engine. Combining weight savings and aerodynamic advances with turbocharging, less displacement, and additional transmission gears allowed Ford to build a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 for the F150 that consumes 25-percent less fuel, the EPA ratings say, than the less powerful 5.4-liter V8 of a decade ago.

It’s not just full-size pickup trucks that are producing meaningful improvements. A basic Mazda 3 2.0-liter drinks 19-percent less fuel now than it did a decade ago, according to EPA combined figures.

Of course, at Mazda, the 2050 viewpoint on the combustion engine is in keeping with the automaker’s anti-establishment mood.

On the subject of autonomous driving, Mazda North America boss Masahiro Moro told Bloomberg: “It’s a key technology for all manufacturers and Mazda agrees it’s going to be very important. We have full-scale autonomy in development right now.” But, says Moro, “We believe driving pleasure should never die. And we’re selling our products to a core customer who loves driving.”

Mazda isn’t targeting a mainstream audience. Mazda can’t succeed if it targets a mainstream audience. “Many customers don’t care too much about driving itself—that’s fine,” Moro says. Similarly, many customers won’t care about the means of propulsion found under the hood. And Mazda, says Moro, focuses “on a particular type of customer.”

As for Mazda’s Kenichiro Saruwatari, there’s a recognition that a regulatory environment could throw a wrench in Mazda’s plans. “It depends on government direction of course but we see a long life [for combustion engines],” Saruwatari told Motoring.

Mazda believes infrastructure will not soon be ready for a completely electric fleet. Moreover, different global markets will require different solutions, so Mazda won’t go all-in on any propulsion solution.

In the U.S., specifically, Mazda currently offers a limited variety of four-cylinder gas powerplants, including one turbocharged unit in the CX-9. A diesel-powered CX-5 is expected to bow later this year.

Across the U.S. market, in sectors in which Mazda does not currently compete, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and EVs account for roughly 3 percent of the industry’s overall volume in 2017.

[Images: Mazda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Nguyenvuminh Nguyenvuminh on Jun 15, 2017

    I admire Mazda's devotion to the zoom zoom market, but I wouldn't buy their stock though. As these new technologies become more prevalent, I have a feeling it will convert more driving enthusiasts to such "moving livingroom" than the comfortable/boring cars drive people back to zoom-zoom cars. Chefs are using microwaves, F1 cars are using what is basically "automatic" transmissions, drone flyers are using altitude hold, etc etc. I don't worship technology but people in general appreciates convenience so good luck to you Mazda.

    • WheelMcCoy WheelMcCoy on Jun 15, 2017

      I prefer to grind my own coffee beans, and I also drive a manual. I'm not into drones yet... but I get what you're saying. I'd buy a Mazda (own a 2010 Mazda3), but I wouldn't buy the stock. I would hope though, that humans want more than just convenience. It's rewarding to be good at some things. We look for challenges whether cooking, driving, or flying, so I hope Mazda continues to succeed in its niche.

  • Groovypippin Groovypippin on Jun 15, 2017

    A lot of people make the erroneous assumption that the whole world benefits from First World infrastructure. There are many places where the electricity grid is unreliable and where electric vehicle charging infrastructure is decades and decades away. Mazda sells cars all over the world.

  • MrIcky I would like to compare the answers here against the answers in the recent civil forfeiture article- but I won't because research is hard. It's true though that currently a ticket has no punitive value on those with means and maybe an outsized punitive value on those without. That's not communism, that's just the way it is. Speeding tickets are too arbitrary anyway though: officer discretion, speed trap towns, excessively low speed zones in areas to increase ticket revenue instead of safety, etc. I could clearly see a case where expensive cars are selectively enforced over cheap cars because you only have so much time in a day to up the revenue. It's a gray rainy crap morning and I'm sure the government will do it wrong.
  • 28-Cars-Later Feels a bit high but then again... forget it Jake, its Clown World.In 2021 someone in Sewickley had an MY01 soft top in a manual with 54K otc which I am fairly certain was a 996 and not a Boxster - $20K. I already had my C70 at the shop being reborn and could have done the $20K but it would have been tight and just didn't make sense. Still...
  • SCE to AUX Q: Should Speeding Fines Be Based on Income?A: Yes. Rich people (the guy with $1 more than you) should pay less, because giving his income to the government means he has to lay off a worker at his business.Laws are for poor people./s
  • SCE to AUX "Volvo has suggested it’s capable of yielding 275 miles of range"Every non-US car's range estimate is based on WLTP - worth mentioning.EPA range never 'backs up' WLTP; it's always about 15% lower - so figure maybe 234 miles. Not great, except as a commuter.As for the interior - it's obviously a Model 3 clone, but the screen is substantially smaller. Incidentally, I suspect Tesla made the Model 3/Y interior so minimalist to save money - not just to be different. When you're trying to become profitable on EVs, every dollar counts.
  • Dukeisduke I know it really isn't, but the central display looks like it's being held by one of those cheap spring-loaded mobile phone mounts. Poor interior design.