Mazda continues rotary engine development

Mazda continues rotary engine development

Mazda has confirmed that it has not completely turned its back on rotary engines.

The company still has an entire team of engineers dedicated to ongoing development, president Masamichi Kogai told Autocar this week at the Frankfurt auto show. The group is said to be progressing “very enthusiastically” with the project, though they face an uphill battle attempting to bring the technology up to speed with modern piston-engine standards that are continuously improving.

Mazda stopped building its rotary-powered RX-8 in 2011 amid sluggish sales. Ever tightening emissions standards also played a significant role, requiring the company to either retire the car or make significant development investments to meet current regulations.

The company last year claimed it had no plans to revive the RX-series sports cars, however a more recent rumor claims a resurrected RX-7 could arrive by the end of the decade. Speculation suggests it could be based on the MX-5 Miata platform, modified to be powered by a rotary engine. Separate reports claim Mazda’s modernized engine will be capable of producing around 300 horsepower.

Aside from the RX theories, Mazda has also experimented with Wankel engines as range extenders for electric vehicles. A Mazda2 prototype integrated a 500cc rotary mill that runs at a constant 2,000 rpm, providing 26 horsepower to charge the battery pack while underway. The car was presented as more of a technical demonstration, however, with no plans for production.

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