Mazda president Masamichi Kogai presents a slide show about its new engine, to be called SKYACTIV-X, in Tokyo, Japan, on August 8 2017. Picture: REUTERS
Mazda president Masamichi Kogai presents a slide show about its new engine, to be called SKYACTIV-X, in Tokyo, Japan, on August 8 2017. Picture: REUTERS

Tokyo — Mazda Motor unveiled plans for the world’s first commercial petrol engine using compression ignition, placing traditional engines at the centre of its strategy days after saying it would develop electric cars with Toyota Motor.

Mazda, whose research and development (R&D) budget is a fraction of Toyota’s, could be the first vehicle maker to commercialise a technology that many peers, including General Motors and Daimler, have been working on for decades.

Mazda said on Tuesday that it would start selling cars equipped with the new engine from 2019, even as other vehicle makers increasingly turn to electric vehicles against a landscape of tightening environmental regulation. "We think it is an imperative and fundamental job for us to pursue the ideal internal combustion engine," said Mazda’s head of R&D, Kiyoshi Fujiwara. While "electrification is necessary … the internal combustion engine should come first", he told reporters.

The news follows Mazda’s announcement on Friday of a capital tie-up with Toyota, an alliance in which the pair will build a $1.6bn US assembly plant and work together on electric vehicles.

Mazda’s engine technology was the vehicle maker’s "heart", said executive vice-president Akira Muramoto. He said Mazda did not plan to supply the new engine to other vehicle makers.

Mazda said the new engine, to be called SKYACTIV-X, would be 20% to 30% more efficient than its current SKYACTIV-G engine.

It said it would begin introducing electric vehicles and electric technology from 2019, focused on markets that restricted the sale of other cars or provided a clean source of electric power. It also said it aimed to make autonomous-driving technology standard in all of its models by 2025.

Reuters

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