From 2019, Japanese carmaker Mazda says its cars will be fitted with engines that largely eliminate the need for spark plugs, improving fuel consumption by 30%.
At a time when industry steers toward electric vehicles, Mazda has developed a more efficient petrol engine.
It says the compression ignition engine was up to 30% more fuel-efficient than current engines – and it plans to sell cars with this new engine by 2019.
Mazda said it would work with Toyota to develop electric vehicle technology and construct a $1.6 billion plant in the US.
“We think it is an imperative and fundamental job for us to pursue the ideal internal combustion engine,” said Mazda’s head of research and development, Kiyoshi Fujiwara.
“Electrification is necessary but… the internal combustion engine should come first,” he added.
Mazda said its Skyactiv-X engine, as it is known, would be the world’s first commercial petrol engine to use compression ignition.
“It’s a major breakthrough,” said Ryoji Miyashita, chairman of automotive engineering company AEMSS.
This will put the company ahead of rivals, including Daimler and General Motors that have worked on compression ignition for decades.
According to Mazda, the fuel-air mixture ignites spontaneously when compressed by the piston in the new engine. It said the Skyactiv-X engine combined the advantages of petrol and diesel engines to improve efficiency.
As it stands, Mazda has no plans to supply the engine to other carmakers.
Furthermore, the company said it aimed to make autonomous-driving technology standard in all of its models by 2025, a move that may be linked hand-in-hand with fully battery-powered electric cars.
With the industry steering in the direction of electric vehicles, in a bid to reduce air pollution, the UK will ban the sale of new petrol cars and diesel cars by 2040.
Volvo has also recently announced that its new car models would be developed with electric or hybrid engines from 2019, while Silicon Valley-based electric car company Tesla recently started delivering its more mass-market aimed car, the Model 3, which can travel up to 310 miles between charges with an extended range battery.