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A Mazda3 is displayed at Los Angeles Auto Show. (Getty Images)

Mazda's new engine boosts fuel efficiency by 30%

Automaker plans to offer cars with the new technology next year

TOKYO -- Japanese automaker Mazda Motor will introduce a new engine at the end of 2018 that offers 30% better fuel efficiency by using pressure, not spark plugs, to ignite fuel.

This will be the first practical application of the technology, called homogeneous charge compression ignition. Though the automaker is developing environmentally friendly electric vehicles, Mazda thinks the internal combustion engine will continue to account for the majority of new-vehicle sales for the foreseeable future and that the company's technology will give it a leg up on the competition.

Mazda plans to incorporate the new engine in 2018 in the new Mazda3, dubbed Axela in Japan, which will undergo its first overhaul in five years. The engine then will be adopted gradually by other models. The automaker positions the engine as the second generation of its Skyactiv suite of environmentally friendly technologies, which were introduced in 2011.

The new engine ignites the mix of fuel and air by subjecting them to pressure, making combustion more efficient than conventional engines using spark plugs. This method also reduces exhaust emissions.

Varied configurations among models make simple comparisons difficult, but the new engine would give the current Mazda3 mileage approaching 30km per liter, according to estimates.

Mazda will start mass-producing electric vehicles by 2019 and plans to have a plug-in hybrid as of 2021. The automaker is targeting the U.S. and European markets, where environmental regulations are becoming stronger, but the company plans to incorporate the engine in autos built for the global market, including developing nations, by at least 2030.


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