YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Mazda has ambitious plans for a generation of engines debuting around 2020 that would achieve 30 percent better fuel economy than the current line of Skyactiv engines the company has only just begun rolling out.
The new gasoline and diesel engines, called Skyactiv 2, will focus on improved internal combustion, said Mitsuo Hitomi, executive officer in charge of powertrain development.
"If we want to dramatically improve fuel economy from here, the only route is through lean burning," Hitomi said during a briefing at Mazda's Yokohama technical center, where he and other engineers provided the first details of the future powertrain strategy.
Mazda didn't say when it would introduce the engines. But Hitomi said Mazda needs the technologies to meet tougher European carbon dioxide emissions standards of 95 grams per kilometer in 2020 and 65 grams per kilometer in 2025.
"The next step is the 2020 European regulations," Hitomi said. "It must help us with that."
The plan targets another big leap in Mazda's powertrain performance and would come less than a decade after the first fuel-saving Skyactiv engines appeared in 2011.
Those engines, which are still gradually being spread across the lineup, scored big fuel economy gains for Mazda by pairing direct injection with higher compression ratios.
The new gasoline engine under development would be 30 percent more efficient than those Skyactiv powerplants, which made their U.S. debut in the Mazda3 sedan. Since then, Skyactiv engines have been added in the Mazda6 sedan and CX-5 crossover.
Mazda engineers aim to eke the gains by cranking up the engine's compression ratio to 18:1, from a current level of 14:1. Higher compression tends to improve fuel economy because they can achieve the same combustion temperature with a leaner mix of fuel. Mazda says the 14:1 ratio in its first-generation Skyactiv gasoline engine is the world's highest.
Mazda's determination to squeeze better performance from the internal combustion engine diverges from the strategy of bigger rivals. Mazda, one of the world's smallest global brands, is playing to its strengths in a tried and true technology, while competitors with bigger r&d budgets dabble in a range of alternative drivetrains, such as hybrids.
Mazda also invests in electrified drivetrains to meet increasingly stringent emissions standards. But its push has been mainly into engine stop-start or brake regeneration technologies. It licenses its hybrid drivetrain system from Toyota Motor Corp.