SkyActiv vs Hybrid Technology vs Electric Vehicles
A few years back when the industry was exploring alternative fuels, electrics, hybrids, hydrogen, etc. Mazda decided that the “low hanging fruit” was to try to perfect small, 4 cylinder, gas and diesel engines. It was soon discovered that, to be truly fuel efficient, the vehicle had to be looked at more wholistically – not just the engine, but the chassis and the transmission as well. This suite of vehicle technology improvements was collectively dubbed as SKYACTIV by Mazda.
Mazda is still very involved with electric and hybrid technologies, but many of these efforts involve technology sharing agreements with companies like Toyota
How does SKYACTIV differ from Hybrid Technology?
Although Mazda has developed both SKYACTIV for gasoline and SKYACTIV for diesel, this article will concentrate mostly on SKYACTIV – G since that is all that is available in Canada at this time. In an nutshell, SKYACTIV is a highly optimized gasoline engine powered vehicle. In contrast, a Hybrid vehicle consists of two engine technologies – gasoline and electric. As such, the hybrid technologies rely heavily on the effectiveness of the underlying battery technology.
SKYACTIV involves improved engine, transmission, and lighter vehicle chassis all working in concert. SKYACTIV was spawned from the belief that gasoline combustion engine powered vehicles could be made much more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly without sacrificing performance and the spirit of zoom-zoom.
How does SKYACTIV differ from Electric Vehicle Technology (EVT)?
SKYACTIV is completely different – it is not an electric or hybrid technology. Electric Vehicles such as the Tesla rely on an electric motor and batteries that must be charges. Electric vehicles use electricity as their fuel – no gas or diesel is used. Because of this, the electric vehicles are very quiet, very clean, and they have lots of power and torque. However very limited in their range before requiring a charge and, as such, should be thought of as an “around town” car rather than a car you would use as your primary vehicle that you could take on trips. (This may change as infrastructure for charging improves and swappable battery technology becomes mainstream. (Think of your cordless drill – not very useful without spare batteries or a very rapid charger unless you have a very specific, short task and you know it is charged)
Is SKYACTIV better than Hybrid?
6-hole direct fuel injector
A high-pressure 6-hole direct fuel injector helps keep fuel cool to improve combustion efficiency.
Although the SKYACTIV suite of technologies is very innovative, it is also relatively simple when compared to a Hybrid system. Time will tell whether hybrid technology will become mainstream. In some ways, hybrids represent both the best and worst of two worlds. The hybrid can overcome range and charging issues of electric vehicles, but they are also more complicated systems. Many experts are predicting that, as both electric and straight gasoline combustion engine technologies improve, hybrids will be pushed to the sidelines. For now, hybrids do offer a very attractive alternative subject to the possibility of higher initial cost and ongoing repair and maintenance costs. The batteries in hybrid vehicles are a costly replacement item in most of the current breed of hybrids.
IS SKYACTIV technology more environmentally friendly than Hybrid technology and electric vehicle technology?
There is a huge debate here. Most of the debate hinges on the environmental cost of producing and disposing of batteries. From a pure emissions during use point of view, the electric vehicle is best since it produces no harmful emissions. The hybrids are also very good but SKYACTIV can often deliver overall mileage that rivals a hybrid without the need for all those extra batteries.