Four reasons why the rotary engine is currently dead


Mazda's misunderstood Wankel rotary engine is among the most respected—and maligned—powertrain designs ever, as Engineering Explained's Jason Fenske points out in this especially informative video.

With his knack for making even the most complicated subjects approachable, Jason tells us four reasons why no major automaker currently builds a rotary engine, a design that was used by several car manufacturers but is best associated with Mazda

Technically, the first Wankel made its appearance in German automaker NSU's Ro80, but it was Mazda that really made the engine something approaching a household name. Mazda's RX line of sporty coupes provided the most common home for the Wankel. The final RX-8 was sold in the United States for model year 2011, meaning that 2016 marks the fifth anniversary since a Wankel was last offered to American consumers. 

Jason points out that the Wankel was criticized for its oil consumption and its mediocre fuel economy, issues that Mazda simply cannot fix because of the design's inherent weaknesses. 

However, another rotary engine may be in the cards for Mazda. Last fall at the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda took the wraps off of its RX-Vision concept, a model that foreshadows a revival of the RX line. Like the 1967 Mazda Cosmo (and the final RX-8), the RX-Vision utilizes, you guessed it, a Wankel.

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