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Mazda confirms world-first SKYACTIV-X tech

Mazda confirms world-first SKYACTIV-X tech

Japanese brand reveals first details of its revolutionary new HCCI petrol engine, commits to autonomy by 2025

Mazda has revealed first details of what it claims will be the world’s first compression-ignition petrol engine, which has now been officially dubbed SKYACTIV-X.

Details are scant, but the Japanese brand says its new proprietary combustion system, called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SCCI), will be combined with a supercharger to improve torque and efficiency by 30 per cent.

As we reported last week, the first application Mazda’s ground-breaking homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) technology — which beats the likes of Daimler, General Motors and Hyundai-Kia to market — will be next year’s redesigned Mazda3.

In the first of a series of technology announcements, Mazda today said the SKYACTIV-X engine will debut by the end of the 2018 Japanese financial year ending March 2019.

Therefore the fourth-generation Mazda3, which is expected to be previewed by a concept car at the Tokyo motor show in October before going on sale globally in 2018, could bring a new body, interior and equipment, but a carryover platform and engines – much like this year’s ‘all-new’ CX-5.

That would echo the launch of the previous Mazda3, which debuted the Japanese car-maker’s original SKYACTIV engines not from launch but early in its model cycle.

When Mazda announced its first high-compression SKYACTIV engines in June 2008, it committed to reducing its worldwide fleet-average fuel consumption between then and 2015 by 30 per cent.

Mazda executives have since said the company’s next-generation SKYACTIV II engines (now called SKYACTIV-X) would reduce that figure by another 30 per cent.

There was no mention of that in today’s press release, which instead promised Mazda will reduce its corporate average “well-to-wheel” CO2 emissions to 50 per cent of 2010 levels by 2030, and achieve a 90 per cent reduction by 2050.

Mazda’s new life cycle CO2 reduction target will no doubt be aided by its commitment to release its first all-electric vehicle (EV) by 2019, and its first plug-in hybrid vehicle (expected to be fitted with a rotary range-extended) by 2021.

Mazda’s latest SKYACTIV tech announcement continues the company’s ‘building block’ approach to reducing its CO2 footprint most effectively, by continuing to develop the traditional internal-combustion engines that – to date — power the vast majority of its model range.

Also announced today as part of Mazda Motor Corporation’s ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030’ long-term technology development plan was the Mazda Co-Pilot Concept autonomous driving system.

Likely to be co-developed with Toyota as part of its industrial and tech tie-up, Mazda says it will begin testing the system by 2020, before making it standard in all models by 2025.

“People enjoy driving while being revitalized mentally and physically,” said Mazda of its human-centred self-driving technology development concept.

“Meanwhile the car is driving ‘virtually’ with a firm grasp of the movements of the driver and the car. In unexpected situations, such as a sudden loss of consciousness, the car will override the driver, automatically contact emergency services and drive safely to the most appropriate location.”

More immediately relevant to Mazda customers, however, is SKYACTIV-X – the “world’s first commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition”, in which the fuel-air mixture ignites under piston pressure.

Mazda says its SCCI system overcome the two main issues that have thus far prevented diesel-style compression-ignition petrol engines being commercialised: the narrow zone in which compression ignition is possible and the uneven transition between spark ignition at low revs and compression ignition at high revs.

It claims its new HCCI engines – which are likely to be based on existing 1.5-, 2.0- and 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engines — combine the advantages of petrol and diesel engines to achieve outstanding power, acceleration and environmental performance.

In fact, Mazda says its new SKYACTIV-X tech will make its SKYACTIV-G petrol engines at least as efficient as its SKYACTIV-D diesels.

According to Mazda, SCCI makes possible a ‘super lean burn” (in which the fuel/air ratio is reduced to a level that would not ignite in a spark-ignition engine) that improves engine efficiency by up to 20-30 percent over its current petrol engines, and by 35-45 per cent over its pre-2008/SKYACTIV engines of the same capacity.

What’s more, it says the combination of compression ignition and a supercharger delivers “unprecedented engine response” and between 10 and 30 per cent more torque than Mazda’s current petrol engines.

“With high efficiency across a wide range of rpms and engine loads, the engine allows much more latitude in the selection of gear ratios, providing both superior fuel economy and driving performance,” said Mazda.

MMC Director, Senior Managing Executive Officer and powertrain guru, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, said that in testing, an SCCI-equipped 2.0-litre petrol Mazda3 delivered better acceleration than a 2.5-litre petrol engine and lower fuel consumption than a 1.5.

“Leveraging such fuel economy and torque characteristics, in the case of Mazda3 2.0L, SKYACTIV-X can offer driving performance that is better than 2.5L, with lower fuel consumption than 1.5L.

“In other words, transmission gear ratio that prioritizes driving performance can be selected without deteriorating the fuel economy. In the same token, it is possible to improve fuel economy without much deterioration of driving performance.

“In our evaluation of a prototype vehicle in real driving range, its CO2 emission was same as that of Mazda2 1.5L SKYACTIV-D, while its acceleration feel was same as that of MX-5 SKYACTIV-G 2.0L, which gave us a good confidence.”

This information has been sourced form motoring.com.au

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