Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru recently announced that they're joining forces to develop next-generation combustion engines. However, another Japanese automaker has taken a radically different approach by deciding to stop investing in gasoline and diesel power altogether. Nissan says it's pretty much done spending cash on new ICE technology.

Australian magazine Drive chatted with the company's Senior Vice-President and Chief Planning Officer for the Africa, Middle East, India, Europe, and Oceania (AMIEO) region about what lies ahead. Francois Bailly was asked whether Nissan intends to develop new combustion engines: "Our future is EV. We're not investing in new powertrain for ICE, that's for sure."

He mentioned that the transition from conventional powered cars to fully electric models will be done through Nissan's e-Power technology. It's an unconventional hybrid setup where the combustion engine acts as a generator to charge the battery. It doesn't drive the wheels, so it's similar to Mazda's rotary in the MX-30 crossover and the two-rotor setup in the Iconic SP concept.

To maximize fuel economy in these hybrid cars, Nissan wants to boost the thermal efficiency of a combustion engine to an impressive 50 percent. It's been working on the tech for several years, announcing in early 2021 that a prototype e-Power achieved the milestone during testing. It's worth noting that Toyota's Dynamic Force lineup of three-, four-, and six-cylinder engines has already surpassed 40 percent.

Just because Nissan is no longer pouring money into all-new engines, it doesn't mean the switch to an EV-only lineup will happen overnight. Bailley pointed out that emissions regulations continue to be relaxed in some parts of the world, such as in Africa where Euro 2 cars are still legal. The automaker will align its portfolio to regional requirements, so the ICE's demise will be gradual. Current engines are likely to be updated to meet stricter regulations.

Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru believe the internal combustion engine can be saved by making it run on nearly carbon-neutral fuels. The world's largest car manufacturer is working on three inline-fours while the Zoom-Zoom brand has set up a dedicated rotary team. As for Subie, it's preparing a new hybrid setup based around its signature boxer engine. Honda wants to go purely electric in all main markets (including North America) as early as 2040. 

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