The Moscow Motor Show may be hotter than we previously though. Right on the heels of the debut of the next Mazda6, the Japanese automaker has revealed that it will continue to develop rotary engines and is also working on a range-extended vehicle.

When word came that the RX-8 would drive off to the big salvage yard in the sky, it was feared that it would spell the end for the stupendously high-revving mill, but Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi stated that the company will "continue to explore ways to improve the fuel efficiency and capabilities of the rotary engine so it can be the primary source of power again." That sounds very promising, coming form Yamanouchi, who said that interest in the rotary motivated his decision to come work for the automaker in 1967.

Part of the equation to maximize the potential of the rotary is to incorporate range-extending technology. Sure, Mazda's rotary engines loves to play with its RPMs in the stratosphere, the company knows this mill is most efficient at about 2000 rpm. Starting and stopping require a good amount of energy to change the momentum of the Reuleaux triangle-shaped rotor. Range extenders would keep the rotor spinning at that ideal 2000 rpm while idling.

Rotary fans will hopefully rejoice at the idea of the Wankel mill continuing on for some time. Anyone worried about the engine's fate will appreciate word that as long as Yamanouchi works for Mazda, research into the uses of the rotary will continue.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      A. Harlan
      • 2 Years Ago
      In the last 8 months I have had 4 serious offers to buy my 07 GT RX8, with a bit less than 25k on it. About 11k were 4 long western road trips, the rest local country roads, local freeways and suburban traffic. Never a single hiccup or failure of anything. I recently replaced its OEM tires and it has had routine oil and filter changes along with keeping the other fluids fresh or changed,but that is about it for maintenance. It never burned oil like reports talked about....but this is not the car for stop and go driving when it comes to gas mileage, great on highway trips about 27/29, lousy in local stop and go traffic down to 13/14mpg there. As to the guys who seriously wanted to buy it, including a local dealer who calls me up every couple months with an "incredible offer" .....fagettaboutit!
        axiomatik
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A. Harlan
        If it never burns oil, there is something wrong. The engine has an Oil Metering Pump to inject oil into the rotor housings. If your engine isn't burning any oil, then it isn't being properly lubricated. I bought one of the last new RX-8s left in the country a few months ago. It is a fantastic car, and I regularly get compliments on it.
      Hedo D
      • 2 Years Ago
      How about this? Why don't they make a electric vehicle with a single rotor powering an alternator?
        disngaj
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hedo D
        Exactly: The rotary engine would make for a simple, light weight generator for a battery-electric vehicle.
          ijardine
          • 2 Years Ago
          @disngaj
          Yes the few moving parts, the efficiency at low and steady rpm, the smoothness, the low build cost and small size and weight make it ideal as the generator of electricity, stored in batteries for an extended range car. I understand that even Audi has had prototypes running in this cofiguration. Sady this means no high performance sports car.
          bauhaus
          • 2 Years Ago
          @disngaj
          But there's no reason a rotary-electric hybrid couldn't be tuned for performance. It's all in how the electric motor supplies power to the wheels, and how much current you let it draw out of the battery. (More or less: not an electrical engineer.) All else being equal, more zoom-zoom probably means less overall fuel efficiency -- but no reason you couldn't set the drivetrain up differently for different applications.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mazda is planning to burn hydrogen in their rotary RE. http://www.mazda.com/mazdaspirit/rotary/hre/
        tarheel91
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Yep, rotaries are very flexible about fuels. The plan is to actually have it run on both hydrogen and gasoline to provide flexibility.
      jrtritsch
      • 2 Years Ago
      Am I the only one looking at the rotary and the RX8 as a ridiculous pairing? Mazda, "Lets make a brilliant affordable four door sports car that is very practical to live with and pair it with the LEAST practical engine which gets terrible mileage and has been unreliable in every iteration? If they are stuck thinking the rotary will ever be a good idea the least they could do is put it in a no-compromise true sports car....which is the only place it belongs
      Lachmund
      • 2 Years Ago
      same idea audi followed with their a1 hybrid concept. will only work and be great if they get the engine to run low on fuel
      carguy1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      Is it possible to run direct injection on a rotary?
        Rob
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carguy1701
        Well...considering that image shows fuel being directly injected.....I'm going to go ahead and say yes
        brian
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carguy1701
        http://www.autoblog.com/2009/05/22/is-the-next-mazda-renesis-rotary-set-to-get-direct-injection/
      jfarber
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mazda does not use a Reuleaux triangle-shaped rotor.
      wanderlust
      • 2 Years Ago
      rx7! rx7!
      tireroaster
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wonder what this could mean for a possible RX9?
      tarheel91
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just an FYI, the wankel rotor isn't actually a Reuleaux triangle. The sides are a bit too flat.
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