Combustion Ain’t Dead Yet
Mazda has made the announcement car manufacturers have been working towards for years: it’s releasing the first commercial compression-ignition gasoline engine. Dubbed SkyActiv-X, the engine will be available in 2019 and promises up to 20-30% more engine efficiency than the current SkyActiv-G, and up to 45% more than Mazda’s 2008 petrol engine.
Current gasoline engines rely on a spark plug to ignite their air-fuel mix. The SkyActiv-X will ignite the air-fuel mix spark-free through compression, like a diesel engine. This, according to the Japanese manufacturer, combines the advantages of petrol and diesel engines to achieve “outstanding” environmental and power performance.
I share my father’s fascination of the perfecting of technologies facing extinction. The basic, underlying design of engines has not changed in over 100 years, but the gains in every aspect — size, speed, weight, efficiency – are incredible.
The truth is technologies rarely get “killed”. Compact discs supposedly “killed” vinyl records and MP3s “killed” compact discs, but neither records nor CDs are dead (yet). In fact, vinyl sales have hit a 25-year high this year.
I’m fairly confident internal combustion engines will eventually be replaced by newer technologies (like electric/battery), but I’d like to think gasoline-powered cars will stick around long enough for me to buy an old muscle car.
Update: Bill Burr brings up a good point on this clip from one of his podcast episodes about why mileage averages haven’t moved much over the last 40 years.