Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru Are Teaming up on New Combustion Engines

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While announcements made by automakers these days are about upcoming EVs, this ain’t it. Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru held a joint conference today in Japan to speak about new internal combustion engines. The three are teaming up to accelerate development and lower costs.

Rather than engineering a common engine used by all three companies, the trio will work on “signature engines” that represent their respective brands. Specifically, Toyota is preparing new inline-fours, Mazda is pursuing rotary engines, and Subaru aims to improve the horizontally opposed boxer. The new powertrains will be compatible with several carbon-neutral fuels: liquid hydrogen, biofuel, and synthetic fuel.

Mazda one-rotor engine for EVs

Along with the announcement, there were some samples of future engines. Mazda brought single- and dual-rotor engines for EV applications. As seen in the MX-30 and the Iconic SP sports car concept, the rotary engine serves as a generator to juice up the battery. It doesn’t have a mechanical connection to the wheels. Mazda does say the rotary is “currently used for generators,” which some might interpret as a sign that this could change in the future.

Toyota displayed a pair of work-in-progress inline-fours, a 1.5-liter unit it showcased separately and also inside a prototype, plus a bigger 2.0-liter engine. The company didn’t have much to say about them, aside from mentioning both have a “high output and high thermal efficiency.”

As for Subaru, it brought a next-generation hybrid system and put it inside a camouflaged Crosstrek prototype as well. The third-generation model currently sold in the United States lacks a hybrid option but the crossover does come with an electrified setup in other markets. It combines a 2.0-liter boxer engine with a 12.3-kilowatt electric motor and a small lithium-ion battery pack.

Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru new combustion engines

Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru made it crystal clear they’ll remain rivals despite joining forces to develop more frugal powertrains. Because these new engines will be smaller, the trio says future models are going to have lower hoods for better aero to further improve efficiency. At the same time, these changes will give designers more freedom.

Another common goal the three brands have is to integrate motors, batteries, and other electric drive units into these next-gen ICEs. The combustion engines are set to deliver better performance, so let’s hope fun cars will benefit from these new developments.

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