With their first rotary-powered sports car coming out half a century ago, Mazda continues to develop a new rotary powerplant to that will fit into a vehicle in their current lineup. Following several patents and rumors of the rotary’s revival going about since the RX8 stopped production back in 2012, we can now at least confirm that Mazda’s signature rotary engine will make a return in a future model – but it’s not exactly what you think.
Mitsuo Hitomi, Mazda’s global chief of powertrain, confirmed that current development for the rotary engine is focused on giving it a role as a range extender in an upcoming EV model. Having a compact size, low vibration, and high power compared to its piston counterpart, the rotary packages itself perfectly as an auxiliary range-extending motor.
The vehicle in question is slated for release some time in 2019 with two versions in mind – one being a full EV and the other running the rotary range extender. The former may see itself suited to markets like Europe, China, and Japan where EV range is sufficient with batteries alone. The range extender version of the vehicle may find its way to North America where clients will have more ground to cover on their daily commutes. A new architectural platform will be revealed by Mazda to house these two powertrain configurations.
As for the rotary engine finding its way into a sports model, we may still have to hold our breath on that. Hitomi hints at a bigger rotary engine being developed for a future model – with the market being the largest variable for its creation.
“Whether the business conditions will be met or not… not the big technical issues. Are we going to really sell that many models of sports cars? There aren't that many auto companies selling multiple sports cars," added Hitomi.
From the looks of it, Mazda may have to find a way to make things profitable if they were to sell another full-blown rotary powered sports car.
Source: Automotive News