Mazda rotary engine closeup

The minds at Car and Driver recently took a moment to speak with Robert Davis, senior vice president of Mazda U.S. operations, about the automaker's plans for the future. According to Davis, the rotary engine will continue to play a role in the company's products moving forward, with engineers applying the lessons learned through the SkyActiv program to the powerplant. That means the next-generation rotary will likely feature reduced internal friction and lightweight internals in a quest to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy. But the engine may find applications outside of its traditional role.

Not only is Mazda pursuing a rotary engine to power a vehicle, Davis admits Mazda is also investigating ways to use the design in tandem with an electric motor, with the pistonless engine responsible for charging an extended-range EV's batteries. Given the compact size and relatively low torque supplied by a rotary, this application would seem to hold promise. Of course, we've heard some of this before.

And what of a SkyActiv V6? Davis makes it clear there's no room in the SkyActiv stable for a six-cylinder, saying that the company will focus on lighter platforms and forced-induction four-cylinder engines instead.