The spark-assisted methanol engine has disadvantages like poor fuel economy especially at light load and low spark plug durability affected by combustion characteristics. Investigations of combustion characteristics of the spark ignition system and the autoignition system in the methanol engine and discharge characteristics of a spark plug are described in this paper. It is clear that effective autoignition was accomplished by increasing the compression ratio and adopting an EGR system in the spark-assisted methanol engine. This new improved methanol engine which is named HAMS achieved good fuel economy at light load, a low NOx emission and longer spark plug life. And a heat insulated piston with a stainless steel cap is being investigated for further improvement of autoignition combustion characteristics.