Mazda says it will be able to offer conventionally powered petrol cars that match electric vehicles for overall CO2 emissions.
It reckons its future petrol cars will be so efficient that the well-to-wheel CO2 emissions will be less than that produced by creating electricity to run an electric car. This means that the CO2 produced by creating and transporting petrol, and the CO2 produced by the car itself, will be less than that produced by a conventionally fuelled power station, which burns coal to produce electricity.
These advancements are set to appear on the third generation of Mazda's Skyactiv engines.
The second generation of Skyactiv engines are due to appear in around 2018, and are set to improve fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions by around 30% compared to the current engines. A petrol Mazda 3 which currently averages 55.4mpg would aim to offer an average economy of around 70mpg, which would translate to CO2 emissions of just under 85g/km.
Mazda plans to make these improvements by reducing the engine friction by 20% and introducing HCCI (Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition) engine technology, which doesn’t require a spark to ignite the fuel-air mix. The aim is to offer the efficiency of a diesel engine, but without the NOx emissions.
The next step, which will be introduced on the third generation of Skyactiv engines, is to improve the insulation in the engine to reduce energy loss. This is not set to go on sale for several more years, though, with the technology not expected until around 2024. This would cut petrol-car emissions to around 60g/km, even including the production of the petrol.
Mazda reckons that it could make further reductions in CO2 emissions with the use of hybrid technology, but it has already stated that it has no plans to offer this in Europe, saying that it can beat the 2020 95g/km CO2 target set by the EU for conventional engines.
However, Mazda says that it may have to consider hybrid technology in order to meet the more stringent targets that are expected to be introduced in 2025 - expected to be around 70g/km.
It hopes to reduce emissions as much as possible on conventional petrol and diesel engines, as it says that improving efficiency by using hybrids will cost the customer much more. It estimates that getting below 95g/km will increase the cost of a car by €4000 (£3340) if hybrid technology is used, while it estimates it will increase the cost by €12,000 (£10,000) to get below 70g/km.