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Early Mazda Rotary Engine

Rotary Motor Revived for Mazda e-car

TOKYO-A near perfect solution for the ‘range anxiety’ problem of all-electric vehicles calls for automaker use of gasoline engines to boost battery-driven vehicles-a solution advanced in the Chevrolet Volt and with the rotary powerplant favored by Mazda.

Early Mazda Rotary Engine
Early Mazda Rotary Engine

Conceived by Mazda in 1968 on the Familia Rotary Coupe/R100, the rotary engine was subsequently offered on Mazda’s 626 sedan and Miata RX8.

But its life suffered a series of blows as a ‘gashog’ and was phased out of the Mazda lineup on th RX-8 last June.

The decision to restore rotary power to the lineup was triggered by the MPG being implemented in North America.

Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi says that he rotary will be used as an on-board generator, not unlike that in the Volt, as a restorer of ‘juice’ for batteries of hybrid vehicles.

Also like hybrids, rotary motors demonstrate extended range, take up less interior space and keep e-car prices more affordable than the current crop.

Mazda’s buzz word for its hybrid engines is Skyactiv.

So far, Mazda has been the exclusive provider of rotary engines. Can competition be coming now that the e-car era has arrived?