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

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

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.

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.