According to a new research by Mazda, nearly 60% of European drivers see a positive future for petrol and diesel engines. Based on the findings, the research showed that consumers don’t necessarily think that the internal combustion engine has no role to play in the future of cars, which is a common belief among many organisations.

The Mazda Driver Project research – commissioned together with Ipsos MORI (UK-based market research firm) and conducted between September 7 to 22 last year – polled 11,008 people across key European markets, and an average of 58% believe there is “a lot of innovation and improvement still to come with petrol and diesel engines.” Apparently, the figure is as high as 65% in Poland and over 60% in Germany, Spain and Sweden.

The findings were backed by the fact that 31% of drivers “hope that diesel cars will continue to exist” as electric cars become more common, and the figure rose to 58% in Poland. Meanwhile, on average, 33% of drivers said that if running costs were the same as an electric car, they would “prefer a petrol or diesel car” – in Italy, as many as 54% echoed this sentiment.

Mazda plans to electrify all models by 2035

On the self-driving (autonomous vehicles) front, only 33% of drivers “welcome the advent of self-driving cars” with the number dropping to 25% in France and the Netherlands. Interestingly, the report stated that there’s virtually no evidence of greater support for self-driving in younger age groups across Europe. Despite this backdrop, Mazda will continue to develop its Mazda Co-Pilot (self-driving) concept and advanced safety features to give drivers peace of mind at the wheel.

The findings arrive as Mazda ramps up its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 vision to combine the best of internal combustion engines with electrification technologies. This of course is a direct reference to the SkyActiv-X, dubbed the world’s first commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition. To know more, read our report on the SkyActiv-X and SkyActiv-3 technologies.

At the end of it all, Mazda believes driving is a skill that people want to keep. Driving can be fun and functional, and the company said many people would like to see this skill retained for future generations. The same research also showed a significant emotional connection between car and driver – an average of 69% of drivers “hope that future generations will continue to have the option to drive cars.” The figure is as high as 74% in Poland and 70% or higher in the UK, Germany, France and Sweden.