Mazda confirms HCCI engine for 2019

Mazda on Tuesday laid out a company-wide strategy that looks ahead to the year 2030.

Chief among the plans is the introduction of the world’s first production Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engine.

Mazda says the technology will appear in 2019 in a next-generation Skyactiv-X engine, though no particular models were mentioned. The redesigned Mazda 3 is rumored to be the first recipient, however.  

HCCI engines run on gasoline but rely on sparkless ignition via compression, like in diesel engines. Their efficiency comes from burning the mix of and air and fuel at lower temperatures, which ends up reducing much of the heat energy lost in a normal gasoline engine. Because of this efficiency, a much leaner air and fuel mix can be used. The process also produces much fewer emissions.

Mazda is talking 20-30 percent efficiency gains over its current engines. The automaker says its Skyactiv-X engine should also match or exceed the latest diesel engines when it comes to efficiency, but without many of the harmful emissions diesel engines produce.

The main problem with HCCI engines is the specific temperature needed for smooth operation. Too cold and it affects the performance of the ignition system. Too hot and you end up with engine knock. HCCI engines also tend to wear out faster. To get around the temperature problem, Mazda’s Skyactiv-X engine will be capable of conventional sparkplug ignition when necessary, such as during cold starts. Mazda calls the technology Spark Controlled Compression Ignition.

Mazda’s Skyactiv-X engine will also use supercharging for further efficiency gains. The automaker says the supercharger has the added benefit of increasing torque by 10-30 percent compared to the current engines.

Also announced in Mazda’s strategy, known as Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030, are plans to introduce electrified models, including electric cars, starting from 2019. Mazda says its electric cars will initially be offered in areas that restrict certain vehicles to reduce air pollution or use a high ratio of clean energy for power generation. The latter is part of Mazda’s goal of reducing “well-to-wheel” carbon dioxide emissions to 50 percent of 2010 levels by 2030 and to just 10 percent by 2050.

The strategy isn’t all about efficiency, though. Mazda said it will also look to introduce more safety-aimed electronic driver aids to reduce the number of accidents. The automaker is also looking at self-driving technology which it hopes to…

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