What is Mazda’s New SKYACTIV®-X Engine?
Mazda Brings Unprecedented Efficiency with Part-HCCI Engine
The old choice of being a “driving enthusiast” and being “fuel conscious,” is actually a false one. Although driving enthusiasts like to get behind their belief that you shouldn’t bother with things like fuel efficiency and clean power, if you could give them the same horsepower and torque with less trips the pump, they wouldn’t complain. Likewise, whether environmental or economic, those who are looking for decreased fossil fuel usage probably wouldn’t hate it if you told them they could have a guiltless daily driver that’s also actually fun to drive.
Automotive engineers are always at work trying to unify these two groups of drivers behind one single technology, or even a single engine. Although certain options have arisen, none have proven to be the great unifier of power and efficiency.
With zero emissions and an incredibly smooth, fast acceleration, fully-electric vehicles are still priced out of many drivers’ budgets, and charging infrastructure is still in its baby phase.
Hybrids provide benefits for city drivers, but those who frequently utilize the entrance and exit ramps of freeways, often find the fuel cost savings to be canceled out by more expensive hybrid drivetrain maintenance.
Diesel is a promising solution, one many drivers had thought the industry had settled on, only to find out the manufacturer of popular diesel vehicles had programmed their cars to cheat on emissions testing, negating the environmental benefits of this fuel for affected vehicles.
With many manufacturers accepting that the future is fossil-fuel free, this period of automotive innovation and engineering has been centered on transitioning drivers from expensive, cost-volatile, and toxic fuels to clean energy.
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Mazda’s latest innovation, the HCCI is a promising technology that seems to be the transition between internal combustion and electric vehicles.
What is SKYACTIV®-X?
SKYACTIV®-X is a revolutionary series of engines that has the ability to change the method of compression. In a normal 4-stroke engine, you have four stages:
- Intake – A fuel/air mixture is sucked into the piston.
- Compression – The fuel/air mixture is compressed as the piston head moves up toward the cylinder head.
- Combustion/Power – A spark plug ignites the voltaile fuel air mixture, pushing the piston back down to the bottom of the cylinder.
- Exhaust – With forces from the adjoining pistons, the crankshaft causes the piston to rise to the top of the cylinder, a valve opens allowing the burnt gases from the 3rd-stroke to be pushed out into the exhaust system (or turbocharger).
Similar to diesel engines, however, HCCI engines use temperature to ignite the air/fuel mixture rather than a spark. This method of combustion demands a much higher level of attention and control over the internal temperature of the air/fuel mixture. The need for highly-controlled temperatures in HCCI engines has made them difficult to bring to market (cold temperatures, like we have in Wexford make ignition more difficult).
Mazda solves this problem by keeping the spark plug in the picture! On especially cold days, and they’re coming, folks, your SKYACTIV®-G engine employs standard 4-stroke operation. When conditions are optimal, the SKYACTIV®-X engine will switch to HCCI combustion allowing for greater fuel efficiency without a drop in engine power.
How much greater efficiency, you ask? Mazda has claimed that the increase in efficiency will be 20-30% over its already extremely-efficient SKYACTIV®-G gasoline engines.
If you’re a power enthusiast, SKYACTIV®-X will be supercharged to ensure that, not only are you not losing power with greater efficiency, you’re getting even more of it! The SKYACTIV®-X engine has its own secrets and mysteries as to how it can switch seamlessly between these combustion modes. We don’t have an official answer from Mazda yet, but you can be sure that when we do, you’ll hear about it on our blog!
For questions about Mazda vehicles, or other SKYACTIV® TECHNOLOGY, contact us today!