The future is not all-electric, according to Mazda.
Mapping the flow of energy from the ground or other sources to the time when it is consumed is a complicated process, and there's arguments for and against various sources.
Using fossil fuels in order to create ways to avoid using fossil fuels is one such argument, as is whether it really is cleaner to run our cars on electricty rather than petrol, diesel or gas.
To that end, Mazda believes the petrol engine still has a part to play in reducing CO2 emissions, particularly via its new SKYACTIV-X technology.
Skyactiv-X uses compression ignition, which ignites the fuel and air inside the combustion chamber without a spark plug, to make its petrol engines up to 20 percent more fuel efficient than its existing Skyactiv-G engines.
Mazda's Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 vision factors in the emissions created developing electricity to charge EV batteries, as well as the manufacturing and recycling of the vehicles, in the vehicle’s total CO2 emissions.
So, while a Skyactiv-X engine will produce more tailpipe CO2 emissions than an EV, Mazda believes it will be better for the environment in the long-term, at least until energy is created from renewable sources.
“What we are trying to do here is to get people to understand the truth of what is happening,” Mazda's head of powertrain development, Ichiro Hirose, said.
“This is what we want, to put this truth out there so people can have a perspective on the society we live in, in a more truthful manner."
“You talk about EV and they have this [zero CO2 emissions] image but you can see in the power generation stage they are producing CO2 so it’s not entirely what it seems at the outset. I think what’s important for society to really look at it and take it on the chin and hopefully, eventually people will come around that this is what we need to do. I think when we can have the power generators, the utilities companies - and we think they are going to come around - to think about other methods of power generation to reduce CO2 emissions themselves.”
But Hirose understands it will be a challenge for the company to explain its vision to the public, especially as EVs become more popular from other brands.
“If you look at Japan, and this is one example, the media is absolutely raving about EV CO2 zero emissions, and that’s an outright lie,” Hirose said. “This is being accepted as a perceived truth, and this is something we have to tackle.”
But that doesn’t mean Mazda is focused solely on Skyactiv-X for its future. As part of its 2030 plans, it is intending to have two EVs, developed in conjunction with Toyota, as well as petrol and diesel plug-in hybrids and petrol and diesel mild hybrids making up its powertrain options.
“We believe it’s no single route that’s going to give us the solution,” Hirose says. “Because the over-riding target is to reduce CO2 and not to release any toxic or harmful gases to the society and it can’t be that the technology is a kind of crutch to achieve that. We have to always look at the main goal.”
Skyactiv-X will enter production in 2019 and thanks to its high efficiency it will be paired with a mild hybrid system, due the same year. Plug-in hybrids are due to hit Mazda showrooms until 2021.
As previously reported, Mazda will also launch its first electric vehicle in 2019. Mazda’s director in charge of research and development, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, confirmed that this first EV will be a converted version of an existing model, rather than an all-new bespoke EV platform.
It will be available both as a pure electric car as well as fitted with a range extender engine, a newly developed rotary engine - the first rotary from the brand since the Mazda RX-8 ceased production in 2012.
Mazda will launch a second generation of its Skyactiv-D turbo diesel in 2020.
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