Mazda to revive rotary engine as range extender for hybrid units

Article by Anita Panait, on November 27, 2012

Mazda Motor Corp. is planning to revive its famed rotary engine in 2013, fitting it in a low-volume, for-lease vehicle in Japan, chief executive Takashi Yamanouchi disclosed. Yamanouchi, however, said that the rotary engine would not be installed in a RX-8 sports car, but will be used an onboard generator for recharging the battery of an electricity-driven hybrid vehicle.

The decision to revive the rotary engine comes as the Japanese carmaker struggles to find a use for the technology. Mazda first installed the rotary engine in its Familia Rotary Coupe/Mazda R100 in 1968. Mazda eventually ceased to use the rotary engine in June 2012, when the last RX-8 rolled of the assembly line in Japan.

To revive the rotary engine, Mazda could use it as small, range-extending engine, just like the engine used in the Chevrolet Volt. Yamanouchi remarked that electric vehicles have range and cost problems, which could be solved by making the battery smaller and installing a rotary engine. The smaller battery would also be less expensive.

Yamanouchi said that the new hybrid system will be launched next year in Japan. Yamanouchi said they are considered to use gasoline as fuel for the revived rotary engine, noting that Mazda has experimented with hydrogen-burning rotary engines.

The rollout of the rotary engine will be in low-volume leased vehicles geared toward assessing the technology's market viability, according to Yamanouchi. Mazda’s CEO remarked that using rotary engines as range extenders is good since they are smooth and quiet. Rotary range extenders for electrified cars are one of the options for next-generation drivetrains after Mazda completes the rollout of its new Skyactiv engines.

Mazda RX-8 has a sporty crafted exterior that offers a fresh feel that is unmatched in the car market at present. The current model was developed to revitalize its appearance without compromising key design theme. The advanced features include the remodeled front and rear bumpers and front dashboard panels. Other features are premium quality front and rear headlights and bigger exhaust pipes—the latter measures 90 mm across. The latest model also provides a new five-spoke wheel design that has different arrangements for each wheel size. Its wheel features a symbolic and sporty design that reminds one of the rotary engine,

Firm muscular lines give the vehicle a sporty feel. The muscular styling upholds classic sports car proportions while adding a distinctively Mazda Zoom-Zoom edge.

The model’s distinctive "freestyle" four-door style proves that a sports vehicle does not need to compromise convenience or space for high performance. The modern styling of the rear-hinged rear doors offers a huge opening enabling easy entry and exit for adult passengers. The style is useful in securing a baby or a small child in the back seat. It has a roomy rear seat area that offers sufficient passenger room for four full-size adults and enough trunk space for a weekend's worth of luggage. All in all, this sports car guarantees adaptability.

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