Mazda is a Japanese car manufacturer that has been in business since 1920 and is best known for car models such as the MX-5 sports car and the CX-5 compact crossover SUV. The firm once had a strategic alliance with the Ford Motor Company, and many of you might remember that, at one stage, the fourth-generation Ford Fiesta was also known as the Mazda 121.

Ever since 2011, Mazda has been producing various models with highly-efficient engines, transmissions and chassis set-ups, all under the umbrella name of “SKYACTIV” technology. Just last week, the Japanese automaker confirmed that it had built its one millionth vehicle using the SKYACTIV technology, which is certainly a great milestone and one they are presumably very proud of!

Striking a chord with consumers

Mazda’s Representative Director, President and CEO, Masamichi Kogai has gone on record to say that the firm has “put everything” they’ve got into producing cars with the SKYACTIV technology, and are cars that have “struck a chord with a wide range of customers all over the world”.

He also goes on to say that Mazda’s spirit will fuel the firm’s desire to “continue to make even more appealing cars that will enrich the lives of their owners”.

What exactly is SKYACTIV?

SKYACTIV refers to Mazda’s umbrella term for a number of engine, transmission and chassis technologies which seek to improve performance and fuel economy for various current and future models.

The engines, named SKYACTIV-G (petrol) and SKYACTIV-D (diesel) are all really high-compression and have been developed so that they can run on lower-octane fuels without introducing engine knocking. Diesel engines are traditionally high-compression, but petrol engines generally aren’t. The compression ratios in the engines are 14:0:1

Mated to these engines are a series of newly-developed manual and automatic transmissions that are designed to limit power losses, especially in the automatic gearboxes, whilst maintaining smooth gear changes for drivers.

Another way that the company has sought to further improve general performance and fuel economy is by making the chassis of each model with SKYACTIV technology at least 100 kilograms lighter. Mazda says that they have been able to do this without compromising the rigidity of the chassis in any way.

Timeline of SKYACTIV technology

Here is how the SKYACTIV technology has developed over the years:

  • 2009 – Mazda SKY concept unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show;
  • 2011 – Production of Mazda’s first car to utilise the SKYACTIV technology, the CX-5, starts at the firm’s Hiroshima plant (see the full car spec at Mazda UK);
  • 2012 – The new Mazda6 begins production at Hofu, Japan;2013 – The new Mazda3 begins production at Hofu;
  • 2014 – Mazda3 and Mazda6 production commences in Mexico, Thailand and China.

The future for vehicle engineering?

If the sales figures of Mazda cars with SKYACTIV technology are anything to go by, it can be assumed that the company’s competitors will also follow suit by developing similar technologies for their vehicles in the future. In fact, examples can be seen today, such as with BMW and their EfficientDynamics models.