The Japanese firm believes quiet rotary tech makes it ideally suited for use in electrified powertrain

Mazda will bring back its famed rotary engine as a range extender because it is “much, much quieter” than the alternatives, according to the car maker’s engine boss Mitsuo Hitomi. 

The Japanese firm’s range hasn’t featured a rotary-engined road car since the RX-8 went out of production in 2012 but it did produce a prototype Mazda 2 featuring the tech back in 2013, which Autocar drove. It has remained interested in reintroducing the technology to production since. Mazda’s RX-Vision Concept, which was shown at the Tokyo motor show in 2015, used such a powertrain.

Tokyo motor show 2017 - live coverage

However, Hitomi has now confirmed that, rather than being used in its purest form, a rotary engine will appear in a range extender version of its first electric vehicle due in 2019.

When asked at the Tokyo motor show if Mazda was developing a standalone rotary engine, Hitomi said: “Even if there isn’t a plan to have it in an actual product, of course we are developing a rotary engine alone.” He strongly hinted that a rotary engine-powered model is likely to exist alongside the range extender in the future. 

Picture special: the glorious history of rotary-engined Mazdas

Asked why Mazda will use a rotary engine as a range extender, Hitomi said “the rotary engine isn’t particularly efficient to use as a range extender but when we turn on a rotary, it is much, much quieter compared to other manufacturers’ range-extenders”, which is seemingly suited to the near silence of electric cars.

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Mazda's recent engine focus has been on the development of compression ignition Skyactiv-X petrol engines, which the firm believes can be as clean as an electric powertrain over a car's whole lifespan. It has also been working on electrified versions of that powertrain.

Mazda’s first rotary-engined car was the Cosmo grand tourer, which was shown at the Tokyo motor show in 1963 and went into production in 1967. The company developed a Wankel rotary engine with the help of a German firm called NSU. Rotary engines, which use rotors instead of pistons, are generally smaller and lighter than traditional petrol engines, without any loss of power.

Since the RX-8 ended production, the firm’s only machines to feature a rotary engine have been the race cars in the American Pro Mazda junior single-seater series.

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Comments
9

25 October 2017

Been hearing this story ever since the rotary engine got dropped.  It's over Mazda, concerntate on BEV's.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

25 October 2017

Its got some legs, a rotary engine is very compact and light and taken to the extreme could be better than a stonking great 4 cylinder normal engine. As a generator the engine only ever needs to run at single speed and can be designed for that whatever it is deemed to be the peak of its efficiency.

25 October 2017
The Apprentice wrote:

Its got some legs, a rotary engine is very compact and light and taken to the extreme could be better than a stonking great 4 cylinder normal engine. As a generator the engine....

The i3 generator engine is only a twin!

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

A34

25 October 2017
xxxx wrote:

The Apprentice wrote:

a rotary engine is very compact and light and ... could be better than a stonking great 4 cylinder normal engine. ....

The i3 generator engine is only a twin!

A rotary is a "one"!

25 October 2017
A34 wrote:

xxxx wrote:

The Apprentice wrote:

a rotary engine is very compact and light and ... could be better than a stonking great 4 cylinder normal engine. ....

The i3 generator engine is only a twin!

A rotary is a "one"!

A rotary engine doesn't have to be a "one" it too can be a twin, more.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

25 October 2017
xxxx wrote:

The Apprentice wrote:

Its got some legs, a rotary engine is very compact and light and taken to the extreme could be better than a stonking great 4 cylinder normal engine. As a generator the engine....

The i3 generator engine is only a twin!

True but its off a motorbike or a lawnmower and sounds like it.. horrendous racket. Its a good incentive to rapid charge to avoid running it!

 

25 October 2017

The ‘new’ A2 styled concept from about 8 years ago used a diesel Wankel engine REX solution. 

25 October 2017
adrian888 wrote:

The ‘new’ A2 styled concept from about 8 years ago used a diesel Wankel engine REX solution. 

Did they reject it because the whole vehicle was just too interesting for them?

25 October 2017
adrian888 wrote:

The ‘new’ A2 styled concept from about 8 years ago used a diesel Wankel engine REX solution. 

Did they reject it because the whole vehicle was just too interesting for them?

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