Mazda Rotary Engine Production
Mazda is almost synonymous with the rotary-style Wankel engine. The popular configuration was introduced with the Mazda Cosmo at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1963 and had been featured most recently in the 2011-model RX-8. When the RX-8 was removed from the automaker’s lineup that calendar year, Mazda rotary engine production went with it. The Mazda family of vehicles was without a rotary-powered automobile for the first time in a long while.
Since that time, rumors about planned Mazda rotary engine production have swirled among auto industry experts and analysts. Each new week a report seems to surface with the definitive answer as to whether or not the classic Mazda engine style will be put back into play over the course of the next few years.
For Mazda, the crux of the issue has always been efficiency and cost. Since the rotary engines used in cars like the RX-7 and RX-8 were known more for horsepower than fuel economy, engineering new technologies to increase rotary efficiency and emissions quality is going to require a significant research and development budget.
The foundation of that budget, however, is already being laid by rotary applications far from anything seen in high-speed performance cars. Though one would think that electric vehicles have little to do with cars in the RX series, Japan’s Mazda2 EV concept car is actually using a single rotor engine to charge the car’s battery when juice is low.
This single rotor may be the cash cow fueling future Mazda rotary engine production. The single rotor generator used in the Mazda2 EV is incredibly lightweight for the amount of electricity it can produce. For this reason, Mazda believes it can successfully apply the single rotor technology to a series of multi-purpose electric generators. Used for everything from camping to construction, Mazda’s generator will be much lighter and more powerful than most gas and diesel generators currently on the market.
Mazda Powertrain Development Manager Takashi Suzuki sees the revenue generated (pun intended) from single rotor motor applications as critical for sparking full-size Mazda rotary engine production. With the 40th anniversary of the RX-7 coming in 2018, let’s hope Mazda sells a record number of rotary-powered generators.