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Every few months, it seems a rumor crops up about plans from Mazda to revive the rotary engine. Last November, its CEO said the only way another one could happen is if the project was profitable, and then a month later the automaker showed off the Mazda2 RE Range Extender with a 330cc Wankel engine mounted in the rear. Now, Australian auto site Motoring reports that the PHEV may actually make production in the next-gen Mazda2 sometime after it's initial launch.

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We have some very sad news to report, rotor-heads fans: Don't expect a new rotary-powered vehicle anytime soon. This comes straight from Masamichi Kogai, the CEO of Mazda, which is the only company to ever market a commercially successful rotary-powered automobile in the world. The issue, as it has pretty much always been, is environmental.

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Ah, the Wankel. You magnificent, high-reving feat of unorthodox engineering. Your biggest champion, Mazda, may have left you – at least for the moment – but that doesn't mean some mad mechanics can't rally you and a few friends for a high-horsepower party.

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Fear not, rotaryphiles. According to a report from The Detroit News, Mazda isn't giving up on the rotary engine anytime soon. Though the RX-8 is headed for the production guillotine, Mazda execs have apparently confirmed that engineers are working on a more efficient and more powerful version of the Wankel. While the project was technically back-burnered during the economic downturn, the research wasn't canned outright. That means that there's a chance that the rotary could make a comeback. What

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Renesis rotary engine in 2009 Mazda RX-8 – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Renesis rotary engine in 2009 Mazda RX-8 – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Mazda isn't the only company out there working on the next-generation rotary engine. According to China Car Times, Chery is also dabbling in Wankel technology. The company isn't so much interested in bringing non-piston love to The People's Republic so much as they are finding a more efficient way to charge the batteries in an extended-range EV. If CCT's intelligence is accurate, the plan is to use an 800cc Wankel as a sort of internal-combustion lifeline so that if an electric car's batteries g

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Mazda isn't the only company out there working on the next-generation rotary engine. According to China Car Times, Chery is also dabbling in Wankel technology. The company isn't so much interested in bringing non-piston love to The People's Republic so much as they are finding a more efficient way to charge the batteries in an extended-range EV. If CCT's intelligence is accurate, the plan is to use an 800cc Wankel as a sort of internal-combustion lifeline so that if an electric car's batteries g

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Mazda has big plans for the future of its rotary engine. According to GoAuto, the company is currently hard at work on improving the powerplant's fuel economy by a full 50 percent. If it can pull it off, the new mill will proudly wear the same "Sky" designation as its traditional four-cylinder counterparts. The site quotes Seita Kanai, Mazda's director of R&D and program management, as saying that upping the rotary's fuel economy is essential for the engine's survival.

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2009 Mazda RX-8 – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2009 Mazda RX-8 – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Audi A1 e-tron concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Audi A1 e-tron concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

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BMI Racing Mazda RX-8 four-rotor - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Turbo Rotary Mazda MX-5 - Click above for high-res image gallery

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2009 Mazda RX-8 - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Norton NRV588 rotary-powered motorcycle - Click above to watch the video

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Back in the 70s, GM was looking to take its much beloved Corvette to the next level. The General charged John DeLorean with investigating the possibility of putting a mid-engine rotary under hood, and the 1973 GM XP897 was the culmination of his efforts. The steel-bodied Vette was built atop a Porsche 914 chassis, and GM poured millions into R&D. The problem was that the Rotary engine was just as thirsty as America's much loved V8, and it was an emissions failure. GM deemed the XP897 a lost

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Click on the photo for a high-res gallery of the RX-8 in cold weather testing

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