The rotary engine is world-renowned for many things, but fuel-efficiency isn't one of them. Mazda wants to make Wankel's masterpiece the poster child for its hydrogen-powered endeavors, so it's considering offering a dual-fuel version of the engine in its next RX-badged offering.
According to AutoExpress, Mazda's RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicle will evolve into a new model, dubbed the RX-9, and is rumored to be motivated by a hydrogen-gasoline powertrain that will offer 20 percent better fuel economy and emissions over a traditional gasoline-powered Rotary. The rear-wheel-drive coupe will take styling cues from the Taiki concept and a dash-mounted switch allows drivers to toggle between gasoline and hydrogen fuel systems. For city driving, the hydrogen setting will be employed, which will reduce fuel consumption (at the expense of a 20 percent drop in power), while the gasoline system can be employed when drivers desire more performance.
Mazda's goal is to make the rotary engine's performance, fuel economy and emissions up the level of gasoline-electric hybrids, and if AE's sources are to be believed, the hydrogen-powered RX-9 should arrive in 2012.