For years, Mazda has secretly been working to bring the rotary engine back in the form of a new sports car. It’s one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry, even though some Mazda leadership has flat-out denied such a plan is in the works.
Mitsuo Hitomi, managing executive officer for Technical Research Centre and Integrated Control System Development, spilled the beans during an interview with Australian automotive site Wheels. He said that a range-extended Wankel motor is being developed for a sports car.
The interview was part of Mazda’s Tech Forum, which took place in Frankfurt, Germany. Wheels said other Mazda executives flat-out refused to say anything about rotary tech, supposedly because it doesn’t square with the message of low emissions and fuel consumption.
Back to Hitomi, he said Mazda’s been playing with laser and plasma ignition systems as a way to keep emissions on target. The problem with lasers is they’re expensive. Some investors have grown concerned that bringing the rotary back would be a cash-losing venture, which could also explain why top brass keeps denying it’s even under consideration.
Finally, Hitomi hinted at what plenty of people have been thinking: 2020 would be the ideal year for rotary tech to make a return. It’s Mazda’s centenary, and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a sexy new sports car powered by an iconic motor.