Mazda RX engineering team says problem with Wankel rotary engine is ‘structural’

Article by Christian A., on November 21, 2016

Despite the government implementing new environmental regulations that can make profit for automakers rather challenging, this has not deterred the engineering team of Mazda as they remain to be on the path to develop the rotary engine even further. While the company has confirmed that this work is continuing, the main issue that needs to be hurdled is how to adapt the Wankel and make it work in a more contemporary setting.

The research and development team working on this is headed by Kiyoshi Fujiwara. In an interview with CarAdvice, Fujiwara revealed that while the main objective remains to be finding a way to convert the RX Vision Coupe Concept to a working production version, the team prefers that it come with a rotary powerplant. Fujiwara admits though that this continues to be a dream. In the same interview, Fujiwara disclosed to CarAdvice that while some have looked into the problem as an issue in terms of exhaust emissions and fuel economy, the team believes that the problem is in fact related to the rotary engine’s structural issues. As such, the team hopes to come up with an entirely new technology in order to eventually address this basic constructive matter, he added.

For many experts, addressing the problem of torque and emissions is generally the application of electrification. However, Fujiwara’s team does not want to go that route making the task that much difficult. Fujiwara shared that since the team wants to use a new powerplant to be placed inside a lighweight sports car, using batteries would likely increase the weight. While there have been a number of technological innovations like new smaller batteries which can allow for a hybrid rotary engine, Fujiwara continued by saying that now is not that time. He revealed though that the best option for now would appear to be turbocharging.

It was through the RX-8 that Mazda last used a rotary engine. However, Mazda ended the production of this model by 2012. After that, there have been certain rumors about the possibility that such an engine will make a comeback. It is no wonder that many enthusiasts continue to be excited and hopeful. When the brand unveiled the RX-Vision concept, it marked the possibility of such a project moving forward. The application by the brand of a new patent just last year strengthened the likelihood of a new powerplant. What the team did was to use a Wankel and rotate it 180 degrees. They then put a top-mounted turbocharger to it. The team hoped that by decreasing the distance between the combustion chamber and the fuel injectors, it may enhance the efficiency.

According to CarAdvice, Fujiwara said that designers and engineers of the brand not only love sports cars but rotary engines as well. The problem he said was that the accounting department is hesitant to utilize resources to come up with niche products. Fujiwara added that the team hopes that those who support the use of Wankels can make the accountants happy until such time that the brand can officially release a new model equipped with an innovative powerplant.

Source: CarAdvice

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Topics: mazda, sports car, engine

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