Mazda is joining the group of automakers that are delving into the use of synthetic carbon-neutral fuel. The company is venturing into the world of racing with its participation in the ENEOS Super Taikyu Series, where it is set to evaluate the fuel with the introduction of the Mazda CNF Concept. This new concept will soon take part in the competition, showcasing Mazda’s commitment to exploring alternative fuel options.
The Mazda CNF Concept will feature the naturally aspirated Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine found in the Mazda MX-5 Miata. This vehicle will compete in the recently launched ST-Q class, which is specifically designed for special racing vehicles developed by manufacturers. Toyota will also be participating in this class with its GR86 CNF concept, equipped with a smaller turbocharged 1.4-liter three-cylinder engine. The Subaru BRZ will be another contender in this class, sporting a 2.4-liter flat-four power plant.
Racing has been an industry segment that has been open to exploring alternative fuel technologies. Dacia, for example, has announced its participation in the 2025 Dakar Rally using synthetic fuel. Even Formula 1, with former F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel now retired, has plans to incorporate synthetic fuel in the coming years. As automakers continue to invest in electric vehicles, synthetic fuel has emerged as a popular topic, suggesting that a combination of solutions may be necessary to achieve carbon neutrality. Drop-in replacement fuels, such as synthetic fuel, could play a crucial role in this journey.
Last year, Porsche started developing e-fuel at its plant in Chile, although it will take several years before it can produce a significant amount of gas on a daily basis. While Toyota is exploring the use of carbon-neutral fuel, its CEO has expressed concerns about the technology’s viability, considering the substantial amount of energy required for its production. This could pose a significant hurdle to its mainstream adoption. The head honcho of the Volkswagen brand has even referred to synthetic fuel as “unnecessary noise.”
However, automakers’ continuous experimentation may one day make synthetic fuel a viable alternative for the millions of combustion-powered cars already on the road. In April, Stellantis announced that it was evaluating synthetic fuel in 28 of its gasoline and diesel engine families, including engines built from 2014 through the end of the decade. While it may seem like internal combustion engines are on their way out, it might be premature to write their obituary. The European Union has recently voted to allow the sale of new cars running on synthetic fuel after 2035, providing automakers with an alternative amidst the bloc’s impending ban on internal combustion engines.
However, for synthetic fuel to be truly viable, it must not only offer environmental benefits but also be energy-efficient in its production. This is one of the reasons why Porsche established its plant in Chile, as it benefits from the consistent breeze that powers wind turbines for energy generation.
In conclusion, Mazda’s exploration of synthetic carbon-neutral fuel in the racing arena demonstrates the automotive industry’s determination to find sustainable solutions. While concerns exist regarding the energy required for production and the viability of the technology, ongoing efforts by automakers suggest that synthetic fuel could potentially become a significant alternative for combustion-powered vehicles. The European Union’s decision to allow the sale of new cars running on synthetic fuel after 2035 further supports this notion. As the industry continues to invest in a wide range of solutions, including electric vehicles and synthetic fuel, the journey towards carbon neutrality may eventually be achieved through a combination of approaches.