The future isn’t all-electric just yet. At least not according to Mazda, which has announced a new gas engine, called Skyactiv-X, which is claimed to be up to 30 percent more efficient than regular gas motors. That puts it on an efficiency par with diesel engines, which are popular in Europe where fuel prices are high. The similarity with diesel doesn't end there, either: the new engine will, like a diesel system, ignite its fuel using compression rather than sparks most of the time. That will make it the world’s first commercial compression ignition gas engine when it appears in cars from 2019. Wired has a nice explanation of how the technology works.
It's interesting to see Mazda taking a slightly different approach to other automakers. Volvo recently announced that all of its cars will have some form of electric motor by 2019, while many other firms are pushing to go all-electric, with Tesla, obviously, attempting to blaze the trail. For its part, Mazda intends to transition to electric, too, as part of its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 plan, but it clearly sees life in old engines yet.
It’s easy to imagine that the market for high-efficiency petrol engines will persist for a little while. Fully electric vehicles still only account for 1 percent of car sales, and while some countries are beginning to clamp down on internal combustion, the time scales are long—The U.K., for instance, announced that it will outlaw the sale of new gas and diesel cars from 2040. Gas may still have a place, for a little while at least.