Yes, There's a Rotary Engine Coming to a Mazda Vehicle Next Year, but It's Not the Main Event

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
yes there s a rotary engine coming to a mazda vehicle next year but it s not the

If you’re prone to daydreaming about slinky roadsters and curvaceous coupes powered by a high-revving rotary engine, this news might disappoint.

Mazda, one of a dwindling handful of automakers not in possession of an electric (or even hybrid) vehicle, plans to change that status next year with the introduction of a small battery-powered car. Coming along for the ride — at least in one variant — is a rotary gas engine designed to go unnoticed by the driver.

Speaking to Dutch outlet, Martijn ten Brink, vice president of sales for Mazda Motor Europe, said the electric vehicle and its range-extended sibling will appear in 2019. This jibes with what global powertrain head Mitsuo Hitomi said late last year.

Mazda loves gasoline engines, and internal combustion technology remains the major focus of its long-term planning. The mainly sparkless Skyactiv-X four-cylinder gas engine is proof of this. Still, Mazda can’t shy from technological advancements in the electric car field forever, and the upcoming EV should arrive at the same time as the new crop of fuel-efficient compacts.

Sharing a new Small Car Platform with the next-generation Mazda 2, 3, and CX-3, the unnamed EV will debut with dimensions similar to the 3, possible as a “crossover-like model,” ten Brink said.

For drivers worried about running dry while miles from a plug, Mazda will offer the option of a “a range extender in the form of a wankel engine,” the executive added. As there’s only so much battery space beneath a vehicle designed for all types of propulsion, range and battery size should be mid-pack. Having a rotary on board — one designed solely as a generator — not only eliminates fear of being stranded without a power source in the middle of nowhere, it also broadens the model’s appeal.

Not that sales are a huge consideration. Mazda’s treating the upcoming global model as something of an experiment. “Whether we sell 5,000 or 10,000 of them, we are going to learn a lot from them,” Martijn ten Brink said.

Mounted flat, the rotary generator will reportedly be no larger than a showbox, with related hardware expanding the powerplant’s footprint to that of two shoeboxes. The smooth-running engine, positioned low in the vehicle, should go unnoticed when in operation. (Hardly the spiritual driving experience of past rotaries, but at least it keeps the engine type alive.)

If all this talk of electric vehicles and crossovers has you feeling listless, fear not. There’s still a fire burning at Mazda HQ for a true rotary-powered sports car. Unfortunately, no shortage of uncertainty surrounds this future mystery model, which clearly isn’t at the top of the automaker’s to-do list.

[Image: Mazda]

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Mar 06, 2018

    The rotary has to burn a little oil injected with the gas, to lubricate the apex and side seals. How are they going to account for that? A separate oil reservoir, like a DEF tank?

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Mar 06, 2018

    Recently I drove the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and thought it was brilliant but flawed: brilliant as an electric vehicle, and flawed once the noisy, underpowered, fuel-swilling 4-cylinder generator came on. "If it's going to get the same dismal highway MPG as a non-hybrid CUV once the battery's flat anyway," I thought, "then it would be better if they used a butter-smooth Wankel for the generator." Yes, Wankels are hilariously inefficient, but they're vibration free and compact, the better to leave room for the gas tank. Mazda has done this trick before with a Japan-market extended-range electric Mazda 2; if they can do the same in a USEFUL size CUV (CX-5 or larger, Mazda, none of this CX-3 bullpucky) then they will make a real impact. But the world does NOT need another tiny EV.

  • Bader Hi I want the driver side lights including the bazl and signal
  • Theflyersfan One positive: doesn't appear to have a sunroof. So you won't need to keep paper towels in the car.But there's a serious question to ask this seller - he has less than 40,000 miles on some major engine work, and the transmission and clutch work and mods are less than 2 months old...why are you selling? That's some serious money in upgrades and repairs, knowing that the odds of getting it back at the time of sale is going to be close to nil. This applies to most cars and it needs to be broadcasted - these kinds of upgrades and mods are really just for the current owner. At the time of sale, a lot of buyers will hit pause or just won't pay for the work you've done. Something just doesn't sit well with me and this car. It could be a snowbelt beast and help save the manuals and all that, but a six year old VW with over 100,000 miles normally equals gremlins and electrical issues too numerous to list. Plus rust in New England. I like it, but I'd have to look for a crack pipe somewhere if the seller thinks he's selling at that price.
  • 2ACL I can't help feeling that baby is a gross misnomer for a vehicle which the owner's use necessitated a (manual!) transmission rebuild at 80,000 miles. An expensive lesson in diminishing returns I wouldn't recommend to anyone I know.
  • El scotto Rumbling through my pantry and looking for the box of sheets of aluminum foil. More alt right comments than actual comments on international trade policy. Also a great deal of ignorance about the global oil industry. I'm a geophysicist and I pay attention such things. Best of all we got to watch Tassos go FULL BOT on us.
  • El scotto No one and I mean no one on here is a UAW member or a salaried employee of the Big 3. Then again if someone identified themselves on here they would pilloried every time they posted.The comments on here are like listening to the overgrown children who call into sports radio shows.