Aiming to substantially reduce total CO2 emissions based on the Sustainable Zoom-Zoom vision, Mazda has promoted the Building-Block Strategy, in which base technologies are thoroughly improved first, to which electric device technologies are added later. The launch of the new Axela equipped with a hybrid system is planned for 2013, whereby Step 3, the final stage of the Strategy, will be completed.
The Building-Block Strategy is a road map to substantially reduce total CO2 emissions by thoroughly improving the engine, chassis framework, and other base technologies that determine the basic performance of a vehicle, before adding electric device technologies to such base technologies.
As long as hybrid systems consists of both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, internal combustion engines will continue to be the key to improved efficiency. To "provide all customers who purchase Mazda vehicles with driving pleasure as well as outstanding environmental performance," Mazda believes the comprehensive improvement of base technologies is essential.
In pursuing an ideal, compromise is unacceptable. Mazda reviewed conflicting features that have conventionally been traded off, seeking the possibility of balancing them. For example, although the efficiency of a gasoline engine increases as its compression ratio rises, a higher compression ratio causes a rise of temperature, leading to abnormal combustion and a greater burden on the engine. It was therefore commonly believed that the compression ratio should be around 10:1 to 12:1 at maximum. However, as a result of re-examining the entire mechanism of combustion, Mazda achieved the world's highest compression ratio of 14.0:1 for a mass-produced gasoline engine.*1 It is a result that defies common sense and conventional wisdom.
"Many breakthroughs were generated in cross-functional collaborations," says Kudou. Not only the research and development related divisions but also the manufacturing and purchasing related divisions as well as suppliers made united efforts toward the common goal of "setting a global benchmark."
"Engineers who had been listing up the reasons why they couldn't do it began to focus on how they could do it," says Kudou, describing the "chemical reaction" that occurred in the course of their technological innovation.
Although SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY*2 attracts worldwide attention today, it initially received a cool response. Some were surprised we were still focused on the internal combustion engine, and many doubted that there was still potential to improve the technology. Such responses began to change in 2010 when Mazda held a test-ride event in Germany. The media enthusiastically praised Mazda's driving performance and became interested in Mazda's assertions. It was at that moment that confidence turned to conviction for Kudou and his team members, who had made continuous efforts to find breakthroughs in satisfying both driving pleasure and environmental performance.
"Setting a global benchmark." What had been only a slogan displayed on the office wall was now a reality. In 2012, the CX-5, fully equipped with SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, gained a good reputation worldwide and received the Japan Car of the Year and various other awards. Now the goal is to remain the best in the world. Mazda introduced i-ELOOP, a system to reuse the energy generated in deceleration, in the new Atenza (Mazda6 overseas) launched in November 2012, and will launch the new Axela (Mazda3 overseas) equipped with a hybrid system in 2013. "Though this marks the final step of the Building-Block Strategy, we have already started new initiatives to ensure we continue to set the benchmark globally," says Kudou, looking ahead to the next phase.
- *1Mazda data as of August 2013
- *2Refers to a range of innovative, next-generation base technologies