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Mazda, Subaru and Toyota have confirmed they're all working on next-gen combustion engines

Japanese carmakers say that life can’t be all battery-electric and no e-fuel fun

Published: 30 May 2024

Mazda, Subaru and Toyota have collectively announced a plan to work on a new generation of their "signature" combustion engines, in a bid to create next-gen powertrains that'll work better with electric motors, batteries and carbon-neutral fuels.

Which, in a roundabout way, means another chance for Subaru’s horizontally-opposed four-potMazda’s rotary-based range-extender, and Toyota’s inline four to live on for the immediate future.

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At a joint press conference, the three Japanese carmakers committed to "carbon neutrality" and reaffirmed efforts to "decarbonise" internal combustion engines by making them more compatible for hybridisation. "Under the extreme conditions of racing, the companies have worked to broaden powertrain and fuel options by competing with vehicles running on liquid hydrogen and CN fuels," they said.

It means these next-gen rotaries and four-pots will be more powerful, more efficient, and smaller, the latter resulting in "even lower hoods, improving design possibilities and aerodynamic performance".

All three are keen to establish a carbon-neutral supply chain as part of the effort to decarbonise internal combustion engines within the parameters of ‘friendly competition’. Together, the trio plans on pursuing a ‘multi-pathway’ approach, which involves the development of e-fuels, biofuels and liquid hydrogen, in parallel to other battery-based solutions.

Toyota boss Koji Sato, said: “The inline four-cylinder engine has been refined over its long history. The simple structure and highly flexible installation requirements have enabled it to support a diverse product line-up, from family cars to sports cars. We want to thoroughly refine the characteristics of [the engine] and develop them into powertrains for a diverse range of cars in the age of carbon neutrality.”

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Masahiro Moto, Mazda CEO, said: “We fully endorse the idea that internal combustion engines play a key role in the age of electrification.”

Atsuki Osaki, CEO of Subaru, added: “Achieving a carbon-neutral society is a challenge that must be undertaken by all of Japan's industries and society as a whole. As we continue to refine electrification technology, we will also enhance our horizontally-opposed engines with an aim to use carbon-neutral fuels in the future. Moving forward, the three companies sharing the same aspiration will continue to advance the pursuit of sustainable excellence in Japanese car manufacturing.”

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