Despite its recent breakthrough in sparkless ignition gasoline engines, Mazda has no plans to abandon the rotary engine which its executives insist is still being developed for future applications.
“We’re still continuing development of the next-generation rotary engine,” Mazda engineering executive Mitsuo Hitomi told Wheels during a recent tech briefing on the sparkless ignition engine, which Mazda refers to as a Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) engine because it still uses spark ignition in some situations.
Hitomi also admitted to the Australian publication that Mazda can’t get its latest rotary engine, referred to as Skyactiv-R, to meet existing emission regulations, adding that the automaker is investigating various emission control systems.
Solutions to other rotary issues such as accelerated wear of seals and excessive oil consumption are a “focus point” of the latest engine, Hitomi revealed.
Hitomi also told Wheels that Mazda is looking at using the rotary as a potential range extender, presumably for an extended-range electric car.
Last fall at the Tokyo auto show, Mazda unveiled the RX-Vision concept, a design study that might foreshadow a rotary-powered sports car. During the reveal of the well-received concept, Mazda said a production version would have to have rotary power, probably turbocharged.
When might we see a production version? The year 2020 is a good bet. It’s Mazda’s centennial. It’s also the year Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games. Mazda execs have previously hinted at something special to mark both occasions.