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Japanese carmakers backing new combustion engines amid electric push

In World
June 04, 2024

Although the end of the internal combustion engine seems to be sealed for many manufacturers, it appears that new petrol and diesel engines are still in the pipeline.

News of the ICE’s demise has apparently been premature, for as the car industry heads towards the electric era, a new combustion engine alliance is being formed in Japan by makers Toyota, Mazda and Subaru.

The three carmakers announced the plan in a joint statement at a recent Multipathway Workshop held in Tokyo.

They said the new ICE power-plants will emerge as potent weapons in the war on carbon emissions, even in the age of electric vehicles. The new engines could also be fuelled by hydrogen and bioethanol.

Three different motors were on show in Tokyo with displacements of 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 litres. Many questions remain, but experts believe the engines would ideally be mated to electric motors for a new generation of efficient hybrids.

“In order to provide our customers with diverse options to achieve carbon neutrality, it is necessary to take on the challenge of evolving engines that are in tune with the energy environment of the future,” said Toyota chief executive Koji Sato.

He said the three companies shared the same aspirations and will refine engine technologies through friendly competition.

“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,” said Subaru chief executive Atsushi Osa.

The makers said that while being “highly efficient and powerful,” the new engines also offer a more compact form than existing models.

Smaller engines will allow for even lower bonnets, improving design possibilities and aerodynamic performance while contributing to better fuel efficiency, said the statement.

Sales of combustion-engined cars in most of Europe are due to end from 2035, although some politicians within the EU have flouted emissions targets and have called for this deadline to be extended.

In many other parts of the world, ICE-powered cars are still much in demand as electrification has been getting off to a slow start amid a lacking charging infrastructure.

Mazda said it would continue to develop internal combustion engines, even as mobility develops into an “electrification era.”

The trio’s new generation of compact combustion engines is tailored to electrified powertrains and the respective company requirements, the companies said. They will be further developed and integrated into the powertrains of their respective models.

A Toyota prototype with its new 1.5-litre in-line 4-cylinder engine, currently in development. Toyota/dpa

A Toyota prototype with its new 1.5-litre in-line 4-cylinder engine, currently in development. Toyota/dpa

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