Auto Tech

Mazda reportedly introducing sparkless gas engine in 2018

Mazda MX-5 engine for illustration purposes only

Mazda MX-5 engine for illustration purposes only  (Mazda)

Mazda may be losing its spark, and that’s a good thing.

The automaker is reportedly set to introduce the first modern gasoline automobile engine that works more like a diesel, using compression to ignite its fuel mixture, rather than an electronic spark.

The technology is known as Homogenous Charge Combustion Ignition (HCCI,) and it could deliver a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy, according to Nikkei. The lean-running motors also deliver better emissions performance than conventional gasoline engines.

Several automakers and engineering outfits have been working on HCCI in recent years, but issues with cold starting and the precise timing of the combustion make it a difficult technology to engineer. One solution has been the incorporation of part-time spark plugs that kick in at certain temperatures or engine loads. Mazda hasn’t publically revealed its plans, or exactly how its version works.

Interestingly, while the Nikkei report says the technology will debut in an all-new Mazda3 compact in 2018, which suggests it will be used in a four-cylinder engine, a Mazda engineer recently implied to Cars Guide that the company was working on an HCCI version of the company’s signature rotary engine, which has been on hiatus since 2012.

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