Mazda may have come up with a game changer in regards to clean engine technology of the future. The company came out with news recently that it is releasing the first ever compression gasoline powered engine. The engine, known as SkyActiv-X, will be commercially available beginning in 2019. This technology combines the best of acceleration of gasoline engines with the fuel efficiency of diesel engines. Diesel fuel can only be ignited through compression where as gasoline powered engines require a sparkplug to start combustion. The company promises roughly 20-30% more fuel efficiency than the SkyActiv-G diesel engine and roughly 40-50% more fuel efficient than the older mid 2000s engines models. That is a huge leap in fuel efficiency in such a short period of time!
The advantages are huge for the company. Compression engines are simply more efficient in terms of energy output and energy savings. The use of direct injection of gasoline allows for correct combustion timing at the top of the cylinder without the use of high octane fuel. Diesel engines are about 30% more efficient overall from a thermal energy perspective than gasoline powered engines with roughly 137,000 btu of energy available vs. 120,000 btu in a gas powered combustion engine. Diesels will tap more into the potential energy available to them in the diesel fuel.
The Future of the Combustion Engine
This translates into an engine that produces more horsepower and torque per gallon of fuel than a traditional powered gas engine. The announcement is thrilling environmental activists as this means less harmful emissions output per engine as well as less trips to gas station. Diesel engines for passenger vehicles have been widely popular in Europe years but not so much in the American market. Diesels have the perception of being noisy and polluters. The VW Dieselgate Scandal only further solidified the anti-diesel attitude in America. This new gas powered engine would allow all of the advantages of diesel minus any of the image problems. Some industry analysts have speculated that the only drawback could be the safety concerns with regards to fuel leaks through the cylinders. With diesel it is non-flammable unless it is compressed however a raw gasoline leak on the block or valves could potentially cause major engine fires. Hopefully, Mazda engineers have addressed this issue but this technology is in its infancy.
Mazda is proactively thinking about its place in the automotive marketplace of the future. The company announced a plan to build electric cars with rival automaker Toyota. Mazda believes that both traditional combustion engines as well as electric engines will be the lay of the land for the foreseeable future.
Only time will tell how the new engine will play out in the market and what the future made hold for the more fuel efficient combustion engines.