Mazda hints at future rotary

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Words: Nile Bijoux
13 Mar 2019

Mazda’s rotary engine remains elusive, enigmatic. While there’s plenty of conjecture about its return most understand that because of emissions issues it will only reappear as some form of compact range extender in a hybrid vehicle. On the face of it, that spells certain doom for those excited for a future ‘RX-9’. But is that really the case?

Aussie media at the recent Geneva Motor Show got the chance to talk to Ichiro Hirose, who’s in charge of powertrain development at Mazda. He said that while the rotary was indeed being developed as a range extender, it has now become a much more versatile power plant thanks to recent technological breakthroughs.

In fact, the new rotary hybrid power plant is so efficient, according to Hirose-san, that it could be sold in any market in the world, including ones with strict emissions regulations.

The set-up can both generate electricity and power the wheels if needed. Hirose described it as being similar to a Toyota Prius, which sounds as if it is destined to power small hatchbacks and other city cars. That might be another downer for the RX-9 hopefuls but if Mazda can convince the bean counters that a hybrid city car will sell well, they might be able to bump up capacity and output for a new rotary-powered sports car. Stranger things have happened.

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