Autocar is reporting that the next-generation rotary engine from Mazda may turn to a laser ignition system instead of traditional spark plugs. The report supposedly comes straight from the mouth of a shadowy senior engineer within the program. Mazda has been hard at work on the 16X Renesis rotary since around 2007 and the engine has seen quite a few evolutions over the intervening years. Autocar says that the design has seen displacement swell from 1.3 liters to 1.6 liters and that at least some parts of the engine have been designed to be made from aluminum to further reduce weight.
The work is in an effort to get the rotary to be more fuel efficient and provide more torque, the latter not usually being a chief attribute of this type of engine. According to Autocar, using a high-temperature laser ignition system would allow engineers to tune the Wankel to run leaner than systems that use a conventional spark plug. It would also reportedly allow the engine control module to more accurately adjust and monitor timing.