By on June 15, 2017

2017 Mazda CX-9 2.5 Turbo - Image: MazdaFull 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.”2015 Mazda RX Vision Concept - Image: MazdaMazda 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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12 Comments on “Mazda Product Planning Puts an Internal Combustion Engine under the Hood of Your Mazda CX-5 in 2050...”

  • avatar

    What? I “can’t even” with this information… I guess kudos to Mazda for sticking to their guns or something, but I’d be amazed if that’s actually the case in 2050.

  • avatar

    You probably can’t afford a trillion dollars to spend on developing the self-driving tech over 20 years. But you can afford the millions to license it after someone else bites the bullet to develop it. For a niche-market player, that makes good sense.

  • avatar

    It is already the case that the most efficient gasoline or gasoline/electric hybrids are cleaner than EVs in places where major a portion of electricity is coal generated, which is most of the world. A further 25 to 50% reduction in fuel use by more efficient ICV motors will mean that emission advantages of EVs will be even further reduced. Moving towards renewables to clean up power generation will be at least partly self-defeating because it will dramatically increase the price of electricity (German prices are 3 times higher than in the US), and negate much of the EV operating cost advantages, particularly if carbon based fuels continue to be cheap due to fracking and other advances. And the free-ride that EVs currently receive on motor fuel taxes will no doubt be rectified by politicians looking for more money, which will no doubt further erode EV operating cost advantages. In other words – there is a lot of life left for ICV vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      It isn’t about cost advantages or “greeness”. EVs have a performance advantage – especially if we’re talking 2050. I’m sure they’ll be ICEs around in 2050, but you’ll probably have to order your gasoline from Amazon.

      • 0 avatar

        Supply and demand works both ways. If lots of EVs hit the road the oil producing countries will still want/need to sell oil and what happens when demand goes down? Prices will also go down making gasoline cheaper and more attractive as a motor fuel. If EVs get much more popular it will also increase demand for the rare earths and other exotic elements in the batteries and motors and raise their prices. Which means EVs will get more expensive to produce. Greater EV demand will also require greater power generation/grid capacity, which will be paid for by electricity users, which again makes EVs more expensive to operate. I admire the power and smoothness of a good EV, but to assume they will take major share from ICVs in the near future is very unlikely. The “experts” have been saying EVs will become dominant in next 10 years for the last 50 years – maybe they will be right sometime, but I would not bet my money on them being correct this time.

  • avatar

    If Mazda actually cared about DRIVERS (as they claim), they’d have some mazdaspeed vehicles available..

  • avatar

    Has anyone in the auto business ever stuck with a 30-year plan? Chrysler promised they would never build a small car. Honda promised they wouldn’t ever build big cars. Volvo would never make an SUV. Porsche would stick with sports cars through high and dry, etc., etc.

  • avatar

    “On the subject of autonomous driving … [snip] …We believe driving pleasure should never die. And we’re selling our products to a core customer who loves driving.”

    Thank Mazda for being forthcoming about this. Too many manufacturers are using self-driving cars as a sales gimmick. In reality, the tech is just not ready for prime-time.

    I’m also impressed that Mazda can make fuel efficient cars that approach Prius-like numbers, but don’t drive in a Prius-like way.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    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.

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