You can’t believe everything you read on the internet – some journalists just don’t have all of the facts.

Let’s look at the big picture for a moment. EVs are coming in full force, and the internal combustion engine will slowly fade away (unfortunately) with a number of nations already talking about banning new car sales on anything that’s not electric within the next 20 years. Mazda had previously said that it wasn’t jumping on the EV bandwagon and, despite its recent partnership with Toyota to develop EVs, we can now see why. See, Mazda is so sure its newly developed SkyActiv-X engine will be so efficient, that the company won’t really need a whole lineup of EVs to meet the stringent emissions and fuel economy regulations of the future. It seems pretty crazy to think about, but Mazda has managed to take the basis of diesel engine ignition and applied it to gasoline engines. Apparently, this can improve efficiency by as much as 30 percent over that of Mazda’s current engine lineup and increase overall torque delivery by anywhere between 10 and 30 percent, depending on the application.

This new engine lineup will start making its way into Mazda’s cars starting in 2019, but what vehicles will get the technology first remains to be seen. Mazda doesn’t have too many new models on the docket for 2019, with the most prominent one being the new Mazda3, so if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on seeing it in that car first, with it eventually trickling over to the Mazda6, CX-3, CX-9, and maybe even the new successor to the classic and iconic RX-7. So, between this new gasoline engine technology, and the plan to build hybrids and EVs (with gasoline-powered range extenders,) Mazda should be able to maintain a low emissions footprint for the foreseeable future without having a full lineup of EVs. It’s all part of the brand’s Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 vision and isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

So, what exactly can we expect from the SkyActiv-X range of engines? A lot of folks seem to think it’s a truly sparkles gasoline engine, but is that the truth? Let’s move down the page and talk a little more about it.

A Sparkless Gasoline Engine? Not quite

Mazda is pushing this engine as a sparkless engine, and some outlets are even pointing out that the engine won’t even have spark plugs, but this isn’t actually the case and couldn’t be further from the truth. The ignition system is dubbed Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, and is said to “achieve a seamless transition between compression ignition and spark ignition.”

So, how does it really work?

If you’ve ever owned a diesel or even driven one, you know that on exceptionally cold mornings you either have to plug in your block heater or sit with the ignition key on to engage the glow plugs until the “wait to start” light goes off. This actually serves two purposes. One purpose is to warm up the fuel in the tank to combat any gelling that typically occurs with diesel at temperatures below freezing. The other reason is to warm up the block to better facilitate ignition.

See, when fuel and air are cold, they don’t mix quite as well as they do at warmer temperatures, which is exactly why advanced fuel systems in modern cars run fuel mixtures richer at first start, ultimately allowing each cylinder to get a full burn. In modern cars, once the engine has warmed up, the fuel mixture is leaned out a bit, and you ultimately achieve better efficiency. Newer engines with high-pressure gasoline injection (something that has been used on diesel engines for years) have also been able to combat the rich-running nature of engines at first start.

Don't Believe the Hype – Mazda's New SkyActiv-X Engines Aren't Really Sparkless
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The SkyActiv-X engines will use spark ignition at extremely high loads and during cold starting below a certain temperature.

Now, with that in mind, it takes a lot of pressure to ignite an air/fuel mixture, be it gasoline or diesel fuel, and that’s where the “controlled spark” part of the equation comes in. The SkyActiv-X engines will use spark ignition at extremely high loads and during cold starting below a certain temperature. Once the engine is within normal operating parameters, compression ignition can take over, which should ultimately result in a leaner, cleaner burn the saves fuel and lowers total emissions output. This type of gasoline ignition system has been attempted before, but it’s never been developed enough to be put into use in production models – until now.

Mazda will be the first brand to bring a commercial gasoline engine that uses compression ignition to the market, which is a pretty big deal. And, don’t expect to find this technology in other cars right away, as this specific system is proprietary to Mazda. But, that’s a good thing for Mazda, as the increased efficiency across the engine’s entire rev range will all more flexibility in the selection of gear ratios, ultimately resulting in improved fuel economy and driving performance over that of the competition.

With the introduction of compression ignition, gasoline engines preserve the life of the ICE beyond the next 10 or 20 years? Mazda seems to think it will continue using gasoline engines, in one form or another, even in 2050 when most other automakers will be all-electric or close to it. Or, will this new technology prove to be a modern-day Edsel and fade away as quickly as it showed up? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.



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HIROSHIMA, Japan—Mazda Motor Corporation today announced “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030,” a new long-term vision for technology development that looks ahead to the year 2030. As part of the new technology to achieve this vision, the company disclosed plans to introduce a next-generation engine called SKYACTIV-X in 2019. SKYACTIV-X will be the world’s first commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition.1
Under the original “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom” vision announced in 2007, the company has striven to offer both driving pleasure and outstanding environmental and safety performance. In light of the rapid changes taking place in the automotive industry, the new vision takes a longer-term perspective and sets out how Mazda will use driving pleasure, the fundamental appeal of the automobile, to help solve issues facing people, the earth and society.

The following is an overview of “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030” and the next-generation SKYACTIV-X engine.

Mazda believes its mission is to bring about a beautiful earth and to enrich people’s lives as well as society. The company will continue to seek ways to inspire people through the value found in cars.


Through conservation initiatives, create a sustainable future in which people and cars coexist with a bountiful, beautiful earth

Mazda’s approach

Expand measures for carbon dioxide reduction from a “well-to-wheel” perspective, considering emissions over the vehicle’s entire life cycle
Aim to reduce corporate average “well-to-wheel” carbon dioxide emissions to 50 percent of 2010 levels by 2030, and achieve a 90-percent reduction by 2050
Achieve this with a policy prioritizing efficiency improvements and measures for cleaner emissions that apply in the real world
In line with this policy, continue efforts to perfect the internal combustion engine, which will help power the majority of cars worldwide for many years to come and can therefore make the greatest contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and combine the results with effective electrification technologies
From 2019, start introducing electric vehicles and other electric drive technologies in regions that use a high ratio of clean energy for power generation or restrict certain vehicles to reduce air pollution

Through cars and a society that provide safety and peace of mind, create a system that enriches people’s lives by offering unrestricted mobility to people everywhere

Mazda’s approach

Develop more advanced safety technologies under the Mazda Proactive Safety philosophy, working toward the goal of eliminating traffic accidents
Further enhance safety fundamentals, such as correct driving position, pedal layout and good visibility, and standardize them across all models
Promote further standardization of i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety features, which help drivers recognize and assess potential hazards; in addition to Japan, where they are already becoming standard, gradually make these technologies standard in other markets starting in 2018
Begin testing of autonomous driving technologies currently being developed in line with Mazda’s human-centered Mazda Co-Pilot Concept2 in 2020, aiming to make the system standard on all models by 2025
Using connectivity technologies, create a new business model that enables car owners to support the needs of people in depopulated areas and those who have difficulty getting around

Enhance customers’ mental well-being with the satisfaction that comes from protecting the earth and contributing to society with a car that offers true driving pleasure

Mazda’s approach

Pursue an enhanced Jinba-ittai driving feel that will unlock people’s potential and revitalize them mentally and physically
Based on the philosophy of “breathing life into the car,” further develop KODO design to raise vehicle design to the level of art that enriches the emotional lives of all who see it
Technological innovations

SKYACTIV-X is the world’s first commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition, in which the fuel-air mixture ignites spontaneously when compressed by the piston
A proprietary combustion method called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition overcomes two issues that had impeded commercialization of compression ignition gasoline engines: maximizing the zone in which compression ignition is possible and achieving a seamless transition between compression ignition and spark ignition.

This new proprietary combustion engine combines the advantages of gasoline and diesel engines to achieve outstanding environmental performance, power and acceleration performance.
Compression ignition and a supercharger fitted to improve fuel economy together deliver unprecedented engine response and increase torque 10–30 percent over the current SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine.3
Compression ignition makes possible a super lean burn4 that improves engine efficiency up to 20–30 percent over the current SKYACTIV-G, and from 35–45 percent over Mazda’s 2008 gasoline engine of the same displacement. SKYACTIV-X even equals or exceeds the latest SKYACTIV-D diesel engine in fuel efficiency.
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.
Moving forward Mazda hopes to help create a future in which people, the earth and society can coexist with cars, to enrich people’s lives through a car ownership experience that celebrates driving, and to become a brand with which customers feel a strong emotional connection.

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