Mazda’s Rotary Engine May Get a New Mission in the Mazda2

2013 Mazda2Mazda has a new prototype in the works as the company experiments with hybrid technology and California’s rigid zero-emission requirements.

Though Mazda’s new CEO, Masamichi Kogai, originally stated future production of Mazda’s rotary engine would remain halted, that same rotary engine is now being used to transform the Mazda2 hatchback into an extended-range hybrid.

For now, Mazda is calling it the Rotary Engine Range Extender, or RE Range Extender for short.

There are still no plans at the moment to enter this vehicle into production, but as engineers continue to “tinker” with the technology, its benefits may prove worthy of pulling the rotary engine out of retirement.

The RE Range Extender is powered with an electric motor. A 0.33-liter rotary engine uses fuel to recharge a lithium-ion battery. With the modified engine, the RE Range Enxtender could see a range of 248 miles, twice that of the current all-electric Mazda2.

“We are the first and only manufacturer to commercialize the rotary engine,” Kogai told Automotive News in regard to the company’s decision to hang on to the rotary engine even without current plans to continue its use. “In that respect we have some responsibility.”

Based on the present possibilities resulting from Mazda engineers’ tinkering, the rotary engine could become a more valuable option in the near future. We at Bakersfield Mazda will wait with you to see what the automaker decides to do.

Mazda plans to revamp the Rotary Engine

Mazda recently confirmed that it is working to revamp its historical and infamous rotary engine. After seeing its end last year with the Mazda RX-8, the rotary engine was removed completely from the Mazda line up, due to its overall lack of efficiency. In a current market of automakers trying to outdo each other in efficiency while maintaining the performance of the vehicle, Mazda soon realized there was little room for the current rotary engine.

Currently, there has been no confirmation as to any production on the new rotary engine but the Mazda engineers are very optimistic about the return. Mazda is leveraging much of its technology from the SkyActiv engine program and combining it with the rotary engine can help improve the fuel economy and output.

Many Mazda enthusiasts are hopeful that the rotary engine returns, though some speculate that it may return as a variant engine in a long line of outcoming electric and hybrid engines. Either way the slated timeline for the new engine is within the next five years. In the automotive would that’s not too far off. Hopefully we will hear updates of the Rotary engine soon.

The Return of the Mazda RX-7

The big news out of Hiroshima, Japan this week is that Mazda has planned to revive one of its most loved cars, the Mazda RX-7! Though the new RX-7 won’t be entering the market until 2017, it still raises a lot of excitement as Mazda has recently cut most of their sports cars in the U.S. market. The predecessor to the RX-7, the RX-8, was just taken out of the market  little over a year ago due to lack of sales due in part to its low fuel economy, not only ending the era of the RX sports car, but also ending the Wankel Rotary engine usage in the Mazda line of cars.

The new RX-7 will likely be powered by a new aspired rotary engine, a version of the Mazda 16X rotary engine that was revealed in 2007 but has yet to see production. This 1.6 Liter engine is capable of delivering 300 metric horsepower and that without a blower. Another intelligent powertrain available is the idea of a hybrid powertrain. Bob Hall, a past member of Mazda’s product development and design groups told AutoGuide “a hybrid makes an enormous amount of sense for a rotary.” He also said it could be “a new kind of hybrid, something we have not yet seen.” According to Hall, Wankels are perfect for powering electrical generators because they love to run at constant speeds. Even so, Yamomoto does not share his opinion on hybrids, a drivetrain layout he says is unsuitable for sports cars.  Still, Hall said “I would not be in any way shape or form surprised if it were a hybrid.”

The plan is to set the new RX-7 to rival the new powerhouse in the compact sports car market that is currently being run by the Scion FR-S. Mazda also plans to keep the weight similar to the Scion FR-S, using mostly aluminum body panels, allowing the RX-7 to utilize every bit of the horsepower installed.

Now we just have to wait until 2017 for the idolized sports car to hit our streets again. But hey, at least its coming.

 

The possible return of the Mazda Rotary Engine.

Recently at the 2012 the head of Mazda Takashi Yamanouchi revealed that Mazda is not through with the iconic rotary engine. Mazda now has plans to launch the rotary engine in a new platform for a range extended car. It will likely be an EV or EV sports car.

Many were concerned for the Rotary Engines future when it ended production this past June with the end of the Mazda RX-8′s production. Since then it has been very unknown whether the rotary engine will be apart of Mazda’s future or not. But now after three grueling months Mazda has revealed that they will be continuing to improve the efficiency of the rotary engine, but as to what vehicles it will launch in is unknown. The only known factor is that it will only launch initially in Japan.

“When I joined the company in 1967, it was the rotary engine that motivated my decision,” Yamanouchi said. “We continue to explore ways to improve the fuel efficiency and capabilities of the rotary engine so it can be the primary power source of a car again.”

“We are still learning,” he said. “the rotary has very good dynamic performance, but if you accelerate and brake a lot there are efficiency disadvantages. The range extender overcomes that. We can keep it spinning at it’s most efficient 2000rpm while also taking advantage of it’s size.”

Due to the efficiency at 2000 RPM, the rotary engine would be idea for a range vehicle such as the Chevrolet Volt. The engine would work by having the rotary engine charging the batteries that would then move the car via an electric motor. With the electric capabilities already available with Mazda vehicles its not unlikely that it would feature a plug-in component as well.

The Rotary Engine-The End of a Mazda Era

Mazda has officially ended the production of all rotary engines, ending an era that only Mazda has upheld for almost 45 years.

The automaker announced last year that it would be discontinuing the engine, citing high costs, low sales and environmental concerns. It got a stay of execution earlier this year when Mazda extended production if the RX-8 sports car with a run of 1,000 special edition Spirit-R models celebrating the engine.

The rotary engine was struggling to meet today’s strict emissions standards due to its high oil consumption and low fuel economy. The the perks of it were that you received a large boost of power from a compact, lightweight unit compared to a typical piston engine.

In May 1967, Mazda began selling the world’s first dual-rotor rotary engine care, the Cosmo Sport. It was a 110-HP engine that powered the Cosmo Sport. Since then, Mazda has powered over 2 million cars with rotary engines over their 45 year reign.

The high water mark for the engine was victory in the 1991 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, still the only win by a Japanese automaker.

But just because the rotary is dead, doesn’t mean it can’t come back to life…with a jolt of electricity.

Mazda is continuing development of the engine design with an eye on possibly using it as a range-extender for plug-in hybrid vehicles, similar to the Chevrolet Volt. It has previously shown a prototype of such a car that uses a rotary converted to run on hydrogen to generate electricity.

So though the Rotary Engine is dead for now, its seems there is always a possibility for a rebirth. Now we just have to wait and see.