Mazda officials are discussing whether to continue with the rotary engine. Mazda is actually the last remaining mass-market auto maker to manufacture the piston-less mill. The Mazda RX-8 has been offering the engine ever since it was presented for the ’04 model year. However, the ’11 model year would be the last as the sports car will be discontinued.
There are reports that Mazda is conducting research on a next-generation rotary and that a new version will arrive in the next few years, maybe as early as 2017.
Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Mazda executive officer-product planning and powertrain development, said that due to economic difficulties, the company is aiming to cut some programs, one of which is the engine program. Development of the rotary has been stopped for now but Fujiwara is hoping that it will resume as the technology is included in Mazda’s DNA.
Fujiwara added that these rotary engines “literally are part of our soul.” But then again, he admitted that rotary engines are not very fuel efficient and doesn’t have very low emissions.
They also burn oil quickly and are not as durable. This is because unlike traditional engines, rotaries don’t have pistons and instead, they use a triangular rotor that spins in a circular housing. When it spins, the openings around the housing are used for the intake, compression, combustion and exhaust cycles.