Mazda Re-commits to Rotary Power

At this week’s Moscow Auto Show, Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi reaffirmed his company’s commitment to Wankel’s rotary engine technology – confirming its use in the brand’s first extended-range hybrid offering.

With this year’s demise of Mazda’s rotary-powered RX8 sportscar (and no RX9 yet on the horizon), many in the industry believed that Mazda had walked away from the Wankel for good. It turns out, we didn’t have to worry – Mazda gets it. “We are still learning,” said Yamanouchi, “(but) the rotary has very good dynamic performance, but if you accelerate and brake a lot there are efficiency disadvantages. The range extender overcomes that. We can keep it spinning at it’s most efficient 2000rpm while also taking advantage of its size.”

Additionally, the (relatively new) CEO committed Mazda to the rotary in the longer-term. “When I joined the company in 1967, it was the rotary engine that motivated my decision,” he said. “We continue to explore ways to improve the fuel efficiency and capabilities of the rotary engine so it can be the primary power source of a car again.”

Keeping the small rotary spinning at its peak efficiency as an electrical generator seems like the way to go, for sure. Here’s hoping the Wankel (which is flexible enough to work with hydrogen, gasoline, and bio-fuels) can make the most of the SkyActiv design philosophy (and frikkin’ laser beams) to keep bringing better, more efficient “Zoom Zoom” Mazdas to market for many years to come.

Source: Autocar UK.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.