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Rotary lives on!

By Alex Inwood, 06 Jun 2014 News

Rotary lives on!

Mazda continues to develop out-of-production engine

MAZDA may have stopped building rotaries, but the company continues to develop its trademark engine.

Director Seita Kanai and executive Masahiro Moro have both confirmed that a team of engineers is still working on improving the rotary, although the Hiroshima car maker shut down rotary production in 2012.

“We have never given up, and will not give up,” says Moro.

But the number of engineers working on the rotary is “very small”, the global sales manager admits, saying that “Mazda likes underground activity”.

The team is concentrating on improving fuel consumption, with the objective to equal the efficiency of a piston engine.

High consumption and consequent CO2 emissions were the major reasons for Mazda’s decision to kill the rotary and, at the same time, the four-seat sports car it powered.

Europeans thought the RX-8’s emissions were “almost criminal”, Moro said.

“This engine has a wide variety of capability,” he said, although Mazda does not have a role in mind for a revived rotary. “We have not decided how to use (it).”

But he has some ideas where such an engine might find a home.

“Sports car is one obvious application,” Moro says. Another is as a range-extender for a plug-in hybrid, though the first is more likely than the second.

Director Kanai, soon to be promoted to the position of Mazda chairman, would not say whether the new MX-5’s rotary-friendly rear-drive platform might serve as the foundation for an additional model.

“Too much good question,” he joked, possibly to avoid telling a fib. Japanese executives seem to find lying tougher than their Western counterparts.