Could this be the engine that will power the next MX-5?
Japan’s relative silence during the green powertrain revolution has raised more than a few eyebrows in the automotive world. By the looks of it, German automakers are leading the charge, the Brits have full EVs like the Jaguar I-Pace in the oven, American carmakers have announced more EVs on the horizon, and even the Koreans, French, and Chinese are scrambling to solve pollution with innovative new powertrains using alternative fuels or highly specialized engines.
Thus far, Toyota and Honda have pooled investment into hydrogen and hybridization. Nissan may be furthest ahead on the EV front with the Leaf while Infiniti’s variable compression ratio engine is a promising look at how the internal combustion engine can evolve, however it’s been one of Japan’s smallest automakers that’s been doing the most innovation. That, of course, would be Mazda. Already known for exotic engines like the Wankel rotary engine used in the old RX-8, Mazda recently took center stage when it announced that it’s been working on what it calls a Homogenous Charge Impression Ignition engine, or HCCI.
Essentially, that’s a motor that sips small amounts of gasoline, mixes it with air, and uses compression rather than a spark to ignite the mixture in the combustion chamber. It works quite a bit like a diesel engine except that it burns gasoline, which releases less harmful pollutants as a combustion byproduct. Mazda, however, is far from finished with announcing revolutionary power plants. Motor Authority has just dug up a patent filed by Mazda with the US Patent and Trademark Office detailing an engine that uses two turbochargers and an electric supercharger to make power. In theory, the electric supercharger would provide boost for the engine while the turbos spool up, effectively eliminating lag.
What Mazda didn’t make clear is what the application would be used on, however it seems to be designed for a rear-wheel drive vehicle. The only such automobile in Mazda’s current lineup is the MX-5. What’s more is that the patent seems to outline a very similar engine that runs on diesel. This leaves the slight possibility that this technology will make it to the HCCI Skyactiv-X engine due for production in 2019, which we know will come with an electric supercharger. We also have yet to learn what will be powering the electric supercharger, but fortunately there are options on this front. It’s not really clear what Mazda is cooking up yet, but it’s nice to know that the company is hellbent on keeping the combustion engine alive for now.