A Story of Mazda R&D’s
Passion and Challenges


“I had this firm belief that once we have a complete understanding of the root cause , all the technological issues will be solved one after the other, like a chain reaction . Just like in bowling, if you want to get a strike, you must hit the head pin.”

Kiyoshi Fujiwara
Managing Executive Officer in charge of Business Strategy, Product, Design and Cost Innovation;
General Manager, R&D Liaison Office.

Creating the world’s best engine by tearing down everything.

“SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY is Mazda’s innovative new-generation technology that strikes a perfect balance of Mazda’s “Celebrate Driving” philosophy with exceptional environment credentials and safety performance.
As General Manager of Mazda’s Powertrain Development Division, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, was put in charge of leading SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY development. I remember I said to engineers, “I came here today to tear down everything.” I was determined to create the world’s best engine, and I said to them, we need out-of-box thinking, we must defy convention and start with a blank sheet of paper.”

“The diesel engine should get a special mention, because SKYACTIV-D is really the fruit of technologies that only Mazda can own. The diesel engine was our aspiration, as with anyone who drove a car powered by diesel engine in Europe. It’s got torque, no frequent gearshifts, it feels wonderful and is so fun to drive.”

Making the world’s best engine by tearing down everything.

Diesel engine: a black sheep in the auto industry.

Diesel engine: a black sheep in the auto industry.

“But the reality was, diesel engine suffered from negative public perceptions in Japan. Diesel meant air pollution because exhaust gas emitted contained toxic substances. It’s a massive engine because it uses large pistons due to the high compression ratio, so it’s not good at high rotation, it doesn’t rotate to high revs. It wasn’t seen as the choice for passenger cars in the 21st century and beyond.”

“The entire world seemed to think that diesel would be gone in the near future because of the high cost of production, on top of being bad to the environment. We were determined to defy convention and said, “alright then, we’ll make a diesel engine that’s clean and easily revs up to high rev range like a gasoline engine”. That’s the beginning of our quest for SKYACTIV-D.”

The Answer: low compression ratio.

“I pretty much knew the answer. I knew that Mazda’s solution was to gain a complete understanding of engine combustion, and that meant low compression ratio. It wasn’t an easy route to say the least, but from Day 1 I had this feeling that once we achieve a low compression ratio, all the technological problems would be solved one after the other, like a chain reaction. Just like in bowling, if you want to get a strike, you must hit the head pin.

If we can decrease compression ratio, improve combustion efficiency and make the combustion clean, we can achieve excellent emission performance without using expensive NOx aftertreatment device. That means we can offer diesel-powered cars at an affordable price range. A low compression ratio can also reduce the weight of parts, which enables the engine to lightly rev up to high rev range.”

The Answer: low compression ratio.

“To tell you the truth, I was met with many opposing comments and opinions when I presented the SKYACTIV-D concept internally. But once we succeeded, the impact was tremendous, it was beyond our imagination I’m proud to say that SKYACTIV-D is the only mass-produced diesel engine in the world that’s clean and revs up easily to high rev range like a gasoline engine. It’s a perfect choice for driving in Japan with so many mountainous roads. When I tested the finished car, I couldn’t stop my body from shaking with wonder and joy!”

Mazda is committed to creating cars that invite people to drive,
fun to drive and make people want to drive again and again.
When a customer who switched to SKYACTIV-D told us,
“I no longer spend much time at home since getting this car,
because driving this car and visiting many places is just so much fun”,
we knew that’s exactly what we wanted to deliver.
We look forward to having more customers try and test the engine,
drive more to get more out of life,
and drive many hours and miles for new adventures.


  • Imagination Makes All the Difference
  • Long and Winding Road of Passion and Innovation
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