The success of Mazda's new range of Skyactiv-based models such as the CX-5 and Mazda 6 is helping to finance the company’s next-generation rotary engine.
The Japanese brand has been missing a model utilising the distinctive piston-less motor since the RX-8 sports car (pictured below) was discontinued in 2012.
There has been plenty of rhetoric from Mazda in recent years that it intends to continue development of a rotary engine it first used in the 1967 Cosmo. At the 2013 Tokyo motor show the company maintained it had not killed off the prospect of a new rotary-powered car.
“We are continuing the development phase but the rotary has several issues,” said Mazda’s managing executive officer, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, via an interpreter. “The biggest issue is the fuel economy and CO2 [emissions].
“There are some new technology elements that we have completed development for … to help find the perfect solution.
“We haven’t made any decision about the commercialisation of the rotary engine yet. However, because of the successful result for Skyactiv tech products and Kodo design models [CX-5, 6 so far], using that profit as a fund we are continuously developing our technology for our future rotary engine.”
Fujiwara-san joked that the rotary development team may need a little more money and a little more time.
Mazda already leases a Premacy in Japan that features a hydrogen-powered rotary engine combined with an electric motor.
The company is also putting a rotary engine into a vehicle in 2014, though it won't power any wheels but instead serve as a range extender to recharge battery power of the electric car.
Mazda’s global CEO and president Masamichi Kogai said there was still potential for the company to produce another vehicle powered purely by a rotary engine that has become embedded in the company’s history and DNA.
“You know that we have already put more than two million rotary vehicles on the road,” said Kogai-san, also via an interpreter.
“I would just like to point out that of all the car makers in the world, Mazda is the only one who has the engineering knowledge and facilities to produce rotary engines.
“So we want to fulfil our responsibility as maker of past rotary engines and we want to see what kind of potentials a rotary engine will have in our industry.
“There is a possibility, I don’t deny it [for rotary use beyond range extender]. The rotary engine has the original benefit of being compact, no noise and also being able to accommodate a variety of fuels.”