Rumors of a new Mazda Rotary engine and Rotary engine powered car have been swirling around ever since the RX-8 got the axe. It seemed like there was a never ending stream of rumors that would quickly get killed off by a press release from Mazda but then just a moment later a new rumor would pop up. This has been going on for what feels like an eternity, but finally, some official news. Granted it’s not the news most of us expected or hoped for, but it is news none the less.
Mazda has announced that it is brining back the Rotary engine as an EV Range Extender for an upcoming electric vehicle that is supposed to come out in 2020. The Rotary is expected to recharge the battery when needed thus increasing maximum driving range. Mazda stated that this particular Rotary is also capable of burning liquefied petroleum gas and that it can be used as an electricity source in the case of an emergency.
Mazda powertrain boss Mitsuo Hitomi told Automotive News that a rotary engine makes a good range extender because it’s small, powerful, and doesn’t generate much vibration. Akira Kyomen, program manager for vehicle development, commented that Mazda’s pure EV will target Japan, Europe, and China, while the range extender will be key for North America and other markets where people have long daily drives.
Mazda introduced its first production rotary engine more than 50 years ago. It debuted on the 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S, which was also Mazda’s first sports car. That vehicle’s 1.2-liter two-rotor Wankel engine made just 110 hp, but it set the stage for future models like the RX-7 and RX-8. Mazda got rid of its rotary engine when the RX-8 was discontinued in 2012.
Mazda also stated that by 2030 it expects that 95% of its vehicles will utilize an internal combustion engine in tandem with some form of electrification. The other 5 percent of its vehicles will run solely on electric power. As a Miata owner I am curious what this means for the Miata in the future as well as for Mazda’s racing legacy. Will their new hybrid and electric cars cary on the fun to drive Zoom Zoom attitude or is that a thing of the past? I truly hope not. I mean I get it, Mazda is trying to be eco friendly and is trying to move upscale and chase companies like Acura, Lexus and the German brands sucks as Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW (most obvious in their new advertisements that feature the CX-5 and Mazda 6 Sedan without badges being compared to such cars and having people guess the brands to prove how high scale Mazda has become) but at the same time they shouldn’t kill off their racing heritage and their Zoom Zoom mantra. I mean think about it, many people purchase BMW and Porsche sedans because of the allure of being premium but also because of their track and racing pedigree (granted many of these models just pretend to have some of that racing in them and actually don’t but still it sells cars). And on top of that all of the before mentioned companies that Mazda is trying to be like still offer awesome performance cars such as BMWs M division, the Acura NSX, Audi has the RS line, Mercedes has AMG and so on, so why can’t Mazda still make performance cars while going upscale? That is the part that I don’t understand.
I think Mazda needs to not be so quick to dismiss the performance side of things and needs to reevaluate its line up. I think even if it didn’t sell a ton, like most higher end sports cars don’t, the media and publicity alone over a new rotary RX-7 like car would be huge for Mazda (well assuming they did it right and didn’t make another RX-8). Also while we are at it how about brining back the Mazda Speed6 and Mazda Speed3, I mean you already have an excellent engine in the 2.5L Turbo Sky Active just match it up to a proper six speed transmission and add subtle exterior deign changes over the current Mazda 6 sedan and Mazda 3 hatchback and you are good to go. One can only dream I guess.
Hopefully we will se another rotary powered Mazda in the future, and preferably a performance based model at that. We will keep you in the loop as more news develops.