There is a small group of enthusiasts that want to see the return of the rotary engine in a Mazda vehicle, preferably in a performance. We have reported on various rumors and news stories talking about the rotary engine making a comeback and then being shelved for one reason or another. It now seems the engine making a return, but not in the way many were hoping for.
Speaking with Automotive News, Mazda's global powertrain head Mitsuo Hitomi said the engine would be used as a range-extender for an upcoming EV. A rotary engine is perfect for this application due to its compact size and providing enough juice to charge a battery.
Akira Kyomen, Mazda's program manager for vehicle development said they are planning to launch an EV by 2019. The model would come in two different flavors - one being a pure electric and the other using a range extender. Kyomen said the range extender is seen as being necessary for North America and other markets due to the daily drive being much longer.
Hitomi also confirmed that Mazda's engineers are working on a larger rotary engine that could power a sports car. The big hurdle isn't the tech, but making the business case for it.
Mazda's question, Hitomi said, has been "whether the business conditions will be met or not … not the big technical issues. Are we going to really sell that many models of sports cars? There aren't that many auto companies selling multiple sports cars."
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)