By on September 16, 2017

2015 Mazda RX Vision Concept - Image: Mazda

Mazda recently announced the testing of its Skyactiv-X compression ignition engine, which promises to burn gasoline with diesel-like efficiency. If it hits its projected launch date of 2019, it will become the first mass-produced motor of its type and is likely to be showered with praise from environmentalists and enthusiasts alike.

However, as we progress deeper into the millennium, it’s becoming evident that more and more automakers are willing to embrace electricity as the next solution to efficiency. That makes Mazda a bit of an oddity, maybe even a dinosaur, and we were wondering when the company would give in to electrification. Especially since it has already partnered with Toyota to tighten its grasp on the technology. 

The current trend in the industry is for an automaker to choose a date for omnipresent electrification, tell the press, and then pat itself on the back for a job well done. Volvo set its date for widespread BEV/hybrid usage as 2019, but other automakers have given more conservative estimates with a median of 2025. For Mazda, a report from Kyodo News (via Reuters) indicates that the Japanese automaker will electrify its entire lineup by the “early 2030s.”

While the automaker hasn’t yet responded to the report, the news is likely associated with its “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030” campaign, which focuses the brand’s long-term strategy on tech development — including Skyactiv-X.

That’s quite a bit further out than its rivals. So far, in fact, that we aren’t all that interested in taking this claim too seriously. While there is little doubt that Mazda will eventually bolster its EV footprint, especially since it currently only has one (overseas) hybrid model to its name, plans made more than a decade out aren’t much use to anyone.

Here are a few examples. Remember in 2008 when Honda said the FCX Clarity would usher in the age of hydrogen-powered cars? Do you recall when General Motors started consumer testing of the EV1 and assured the world that the age of battery-driven vehicles was upon us? So do we.

The point is that, if anything, Mazda will gradually tweak its fleet to include more hybrids and milk its ultra-efficient gasoline engines — instead of swapping to pure EVs — before reassessing the global situation closer to the end of the next decade. What it has done here is made itself appear as if it’s in line with other manufacturers by setting a target date so far into the future that it’ll never be held accountable for it — which is fine with us. Mazda is doing good work with the internal combustion engine and we don’t see any reason for it to march with its contemporaries at the back of the line when it can blaze its own trail down another.

[Image: Mazda]

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35 Comments on “More Internal Combustion Abandonment: Mazda Plans Fully Electric Fleet By ‘Early 2030s’...”

  • avatar

    Still awaiting my flying car, thank you very much.

  • avatar

    Does anyone really care about these dates? When the technology is ready, everyone will adapt within the same timeframe. – more or less.

    • 0 avatar

      Yea, it’s just meaningless press fodder (sorry TTAC). None of these manufacturers reveal how they plan to execute these grandiose plans because they don’t have any plans.

      • 0 avatar

        They’re in the business of selling hype backed paper to the starry eyeded’s now. “Manufacturing” is just some annoying anachronism they have to involve themselves with, to keep the hype alive.

    • 0 avatar

      I sort of view them as target dates for when various companies think the technology will be mature enough for mass-market (rather than just early adopters).

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        It really depends on the timeline and automaker. When Volvo says 2019 and we already see projects in the works, it’s evident that real change is coming — and soon. When Mazda says “early 2030s” it’s an attempt to make itself seem ready and committed to the new trend of electrification without actually having to do anything.

  • avatar

    All of the grandiose statements coming from automakers about the date that their fleet will be all electric or all hybrid or etc are no more than hogwash. They will build what the consumer will buy.

    Mazda’s announcement made me laugh hardest because they just unveiled their “holy grail” of ICE.

  • avatar

    TTAC, they suckered you in again to another 100% coal-powered electric story-headline. Bring on the five star shrimp dinner.

    After the current CEO retires wit millions, of course.

    The Earth quakes by Mazda’s me-too announcement. (Yes, that Mazda who is forever on the far-fringe of anything remotely called a retail-significance for four decades.)

    Fringe Automaker Z? 100% electric cars? Powered by coal? Count me out.

    I’ll fix what I have, or can buy, up to the last minute.

    Is this fake news?

  • avatar

    Until Mazda updates their dealerships having them not look like buy here pay here shops. Mazda is irrelevant in many parts of the United States.

  • avatar

    However exciting the new compression gas engines sound now, I’m glad Mazda is planning their next move beyond that. In case, you know, something doesn’t work out. VW didn’t hedge their TDI bet that way, and it’s costing them years of momentum.

    Two months into owning my first hybrid, I’m impressed by the wonder of regenerative braking. I’ve driven hundreds of free miles on the energy recaptured at stoplights. How can you win the efficiency game without exploiting this power source? But it requires you have a way to use that regained energy, which means an electric motor, which means you;re now driving a hybrid.

    • 0 avatar

      Hybrid all the things. Best of both worlds for most people. You recapture a lot of energy instead of turning it to heat via friction and the ability of most to go engine off when coasting or run the AC compressor electrically saves a lot of gas. When done well the average consumer won’t really notice a difference in how it drives if you were to eliminate the tach as a visual reminder that the engine just shut off while you are going down the road.

      • 0 avatar

        “Hybrid all the things. Best of both worlds for most people. You recapture a lot of energy instead of turning it to heat via friction and the ability of most to go engine off when coasting or run the AC compressor electrically saves a lot of gas. When done well the average consumer won’t really notice a difference in how it drives if you were to eliminate the tach as a visual reminder that the engine just shut off while you are going down the road.”

        Wow, people are just now discovering this???

        Toyota’s been doing exactly this for…how many years?

        My 07 Prius turned 10 years old this past March, and to date has 175K on the clock. It’s been doing exactly what you describe for all that time.

        Oh–and the AC compressor is electric, so the car stays cool when the gas engine isn’t turning.

        And the system pumps engine coolant into a vacuum bottle when the user turns the car off–to preserve the heat energy so that the engine warms up more quickly the next time.

        And did you know, those crazy Japanese with their attention to detail also made it so the hybrid system spins up the gas engine to 1100rpm first BEFORE turning on fuel and spark, so the oil pressure is up first. That lends to serious engine longevity.

        And of course, the fact that under normal braking you aren’t using the physical brakes until 11mph–that makes the brake pads last forever. 200K miles on factory brakes is not at all unusual.

        A well sorted hybrid system can have so, so many advantages for the daily driver, it’s not funny.

        • 0 avatar

          Hybrids indeed! Perfect transition to ev’s. Completely bypasses the coal-generated electricity bs argument. Mazda could use their claimed superior engine technology in hybrids.

          And I feel so bad for the ICE cultists. Espousing that electric cars will never work out, but seeing one manufacturer after another committing to electrification. Now Porsche. And Mazda. What is the world coming to? Why can’t everyone see it’s flat?

          • 0 avatar

            Hybrids are the most logical path, and pure electric cannot and does not work economically without significant technological advancement. Every single one is a loss leader subsidized by profitable product, gov’t incentives, or both. I know facts don’t matter to cultists.

  • avatar

    Matt, would you please make one thing clear? When an automaker talks about electrification, like Mazda is now and like Volvo, JLR & others have done in the past, they mean something on the scale of “All of our models will have a hybrid option” to “All the cars we sell will have some form of electrically assisted propulsion (usually as part of a hybrid system)” to “All of our cars will be solely battery-electric vehicles”.

    The first two of these options are almost inevitable, as the cost, complexity and size of light hybrid systems come down, while the performance, electric storage capacity, and electrical charge/discharge rates improve (like all the 48V systems that will be coming to market soon). As fuel efficiency/CO2 standards tighten, almost no mass-market automaker that sells in the US or Europe will be able to ignore the energy wasted by braking. This will force everyone into some form of regenerative braking, which then requires energy storage, a way to offset some engine load with the stored energy, and the control strategy.

    These proclamations will be coming from just about everyone, it would be nice if you could make it clear where on the spectrum each automaker is talking about instead of just buzz-feeding the line “OMG, INTERNAL COMBUSTION IS DEAD!!!1!”, because I can assure you that IC engines will be around for decades in mass production, just more commonly as part of hybrid systems.

  • avatar

    The new Mazda X engine is Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, SCCI for short. How it works exactly can be viewed on the Car and Driver website if anyone is interested beyond pontificating. A spark plug is essential to its operation. They’ve even driven a prototype in Germany.

    • 0 avatar

      SCCI is the hydrogen bomb of the industry.

      “I know–let’s use something we already have and know as PART of a new system for something we can’t do otherwise! We’ll use spark ignition to create a PRESSURE FRONT that we need for the rest of the system to work!”

      Yup. Same core concept as using a fission bomb as the igniter for a thermonuclear reaction.

  • avatar

    More petroleum deposits continue to be found and extractive technologies like fracking and horizontal drilling will make existing deposits more economically feasible to extract. I just read about the development of what may be Europe’s biggest onshore oil field in Italy.

    That being said, petroleum is too valuable as a chemical feedstock to use as fuel. We’re eating our seed corn, so to speak.

    As great a fuel as gasoline is, ICEs are, at best 40% efficient and that’s a theoretical limit, reality is lower. That’s a lot of waste heat. Add the energy wasted when you apply the brakes. So there are efficiencies to be gained by going to EVs.

    From an environmental standpoint, while moving to EVs would mean running our cars on coal (and hydro, and natural gas, and nuclear), it’s a lot easier to control pollution from a point source, i.e. an electrical generating station, than it is from millions of cars individually. There’s also the advantage of regenerative braking and the possibility that EVs might require less energy to build than ICE powered vehicles.

    There are some solid reasons to transition a good part of our private and commercial vehicle fleets to electric power.

    The problem for EVs is that gasoline is an outstanding fuel, even with the built in inefficiencies of ICEs. Until energy density and recharging times for batteries can give you 300 miles of travel in a 10 minute stop, the majority of vehicles will still be liquid fueled. The fact that we’re awash in petroleum, a glut that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon will also delay the acceptance of EVs. Even the most optimistic projections say that only a small fraction, perhaps 1/5th, of vehicles will be EVs or hybrids a decade out from now. While 20% of whatever worldwide vehicle sales are (50 million total units?), ten years from now, they’re still going to be selling many millions of gasoline powered vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      Charge time and range are not the barrier for EVs. Virtually ALL charging of EVs is done at home, and range is increased by simply adding more batteries.

      The #1 barrier for EVs is purchase price. People don’t consider a car costing $10k more than its comparable gas car. That price premium is caused by the cost of batteries. Thus, the most important technical hurdle to clear is reducing the price of batteries. The industry is doing very well on that front, with battery prices dropping ~9%/yr.

      The second hurdle is improving longevity. One reason hydrogen is pushed is that the ratio of lifetime energy facilitated / energy required to manufacture a fuel cell is much, much higher than a battery. But it seems if Toyota succeeds with their solid state battery, that drawback may be gone, too. (Note, there are too few batteries in real-world use to know exactly how long they last. Some Teslas with 200k mi indicate a mere 7% loss, but that’s likely due to the large battery permitting limiting the range of load cycles.)

      If the industry can solve these two problems, everything else takes care of itself.

  • avatar

    More virtue signaling.

    I’m sure though once all these car companies go electric, the planet will start rapidly cooling and there will be no more bad weather.

  • avatar

    TTAC needs to stop it with the editorial we. It’s seriously irritating.

  • avatar

    By early 2030s Tesla will make flying cars and establish colony on Mars. Even NASA may land humans on Mars. And what Mazda is planning to do, again?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Mazda will electrify its fleet when it is absorbed into another car mfr.

  • avatar

    So…more “Zing/Zing” and less “Zoom/Zoom?”

  • avatar

    Note slide 4 of their presentation regarding ICEs and electrification titled “Forecast Expansion of Environmental Technologies.” ICEs and electrification will overlap significantly.

    EVs currently are ~1% of sales. That number will go up quickly once they reach price parity with gasoline. Per the UBS-commissioned Bolt EV tear-down report, that point will occur between 2023 & 2025 in the US. However, that estimate probably does not include improvements to ICEs like HCCI. I estimate that with HCCI that parity point is pushed out ~7 yr.

    The Skyactiv-X engine is projected to add little cost: only a few new pieces need to be added, and its increase in power & torque permit making the engine smaller. (The 2.0L prototype reportedly produces 190 hp which makes it a replacement for the 2.5L engine.) Thus, the cost/benefit of improving the engine is better than adding hybridization or going full electric. Furthermore, as the linked chart shows, improving the engine improves emissions of vastly more vehicles. (Fun calc: which reduces emissions more: Reducing 75% of vehicles by 25% or reducing 5% of vehicles 75%?)

    Mazda’s strategy is solid. It’s an excellent use of their research budget. And this engine isn’t the end, either. Their presentation (and previous strategy statements) reference an adiabatic engine. If they can do that, it’s another jump in efficiency and delay in the acceptance of full-electrics.

  • avatar

    The more I see of this electrification trend, the more I see Sergio Marchionne and FCA cashing in with their low-priced ICE lineup against the early adopters who sank far too much money too soon into plug-in electric tech.

    The skyrocketing prices for lithium and cobalt are going to make the batteries more expensive, and the high and increasing price of electricity is going to sour consumers on plug-ins. Forget the off-peak low prices – that was the result of coal-fired generation requiring the off-peak base generation. You can’t turn them on and off like a gas-fired plant, whose fuel is delivered by pipeline, not rail.

    The upshot is that electric cars, even hybrids, will be more expensive to make than ICEs, and the charging will be more expensive, while the switch to electric will depress the price of gasoline. With no money for electric tech, FCA will soldier on with cheaper to make ICEs that run on cheaper gasoline, while the big boys have to swallow their huge expenditures on full-line electrics while having to charge more for them to cover the higher battery cost.

  • avatar

    I think everyone agrees that the release of Skyactiv X for 2019 is the only bit of exciting news here.

  • avatar

    Electrification doesn’t mean making electric cars, it means electric propulsion.

    This could be in the form of a full-on battery electric car. Or, it could be in the form of a 48 volt starter/generator putting 5 kW or so of additional power into the crankshaft of an ICE, having regenerated some electricity under braking – a mild hybrid.

  • avatar

    I’d say theres a good chance Mazda as it currently stands be gone by the 2030s.

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