Toyota, Mazda and Subaru recently announced a collaboration to develop new combustion engines. Another Japanese manufacturer, however, is taking a radically different approach. With the decision to end its investment in diesel and petrol engines. Nissan says it is pretty much done spending money on new combustion engine technology. 

The Australian magazine Drive spoke to Francios Bailly, Senior Vice-President and Chief Planning Officer for the AMIEO region (Africa, Middle East, India, Europe and Oceania), about the future of the company. He was also asked whether Nissan intends to develop new combustion engines. The answer was clear: "Our future is EV. We are not investing in new powertrains for combustion engines, that's for sure."

Mr Bailly also said that the transition from conventionally powered cars to all-electric models would be made with the help of Nissan's e-Power technology. This is a rather unconventional hybrid set-up in which the combustion engine acts as a generator to charge the battery. The wheels are not driven by it, just as Mazda does with the Wankel engine in the MX-30 crossover.

In order to optimise the consumption values in these hybrid vehicles, Nissan wants to improve the efficiency of the combustion engine to 50 percent. That would be an absolutely impressive figure, but tests - including by Chinese manufacturers - show that it is probably possible. 

Nissan has also already demonstrated this. It has been working on the technology for years and announced at the beginning of 2021 that an e-Power prototype had reached the milestone during testing. It should also be mentioned that Toyota's "Dynamic Force" three-, four- and six-cylinder engines have now exceeded the 40 per cent mark. 

Just because Nissan is no longer investing money in new combustion engines does not mean that the switch to an all-electric portfolio will happen overnight. Bailly pointed out that emissions regulations are still relaxed in some parts of the world. In Africa, for example, Euro 2 cars are still legal. Accordingly, the car manufacturer will adapt its model range to regional requirements. The ban on the combustion engine is therefore likely to come at different speeds and existing combustion engines will probably be optimised in order to be fit for stricter regulations.

Toyota, Mazda and Subaru, on the other hand, believe that the combustion engine can be saved by running it on CO2-neutral fuels. The world's largest car manufacturer is currently working on three new four-cylinder engines. Mazda, on the other hand, has set up a special Wankel team, and Subaru is preparing a new hybrid set-up for its boxer engines. Honda wants to be purely electric in all major markets (including North America) by 2024.