Mazda in February will establish a team dedicated to rotary engine development, CEO Katsuhiro Moro announced during this past weekend's 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon.

He said last year's Iconic SP concept, an electric sports car with a rotary serving as a range-extender, was well received, and with this encouragement the automaker will establish the new rotary development team to “move closer to this dream."

Mazda already offers a vehicle with a rotary engine. In select markets, the automaker's MX-30 electric compact crossover is available with a rotary range-extender.

A similar setup was used for the Iconic SP concept, which could preview a future production sports car. Mazda didn't provide specifics on the concept's powertrain but said the range-extender is a compact twin-rotor rotary with a scalable design and the flexibility to run on various fuels, including hydrogen.

Mazda Iconic SP concept

Mazda Iconic SP concept

According to Motor1, Mazda previously had a rotary development team but disbanded it in 2018.

That previous team was likely working on rotary engines that could directly power a vehicle's wheels, instead of via an electric motor. In 2015, Mazda rolled out the RX-Vision concept, a rotary sports car with a traditional front engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration.

However, senior Mazda executives on a number of occasions have made it clear that getting the rotary to meet emissions standards is proving a challenge. It's why Mazda is now only using rotary engines as range-extenders for EVs.