Mazda Officials Sort-of Confirm Working On New Rotary-Based Hybrid

Another week, another report on Mazda’s return on making spinning-dorito engines: Mazda’s head of Technical Research Center reportedly confirmed the development of a new rotary-based electrified powertrain.

During an interview with Australian Wheels magazine, Mitsuo Hitomi said “We’re still continuing development of the next generation rotary engine,” adding that range-extender tech will also be applied, with the powertrain destined for a new sports car.

There’ve been tons of reports on the matter, with Mazda understandably wanting to control the hype of a possible rotary return, because the company wants to reach a real breakthrough with the engine tech, as it was confirmed by Mazda’s boss Masamichi Kogai back in 2015.

“We cannot improve the rotary engine to the current conventional engine emissions,” admitted Hitomi, but he continued saying that working on traditional rotary issues such as apex seals and oil consumption are “the focus point of the new rotary engine”.

This is the second time we get to hear someone from Mazda talking about a new rotary engine that will be part of an electrified powertrain. Last March Mazda’s R&D chief, Matsuhiro Tanaka said “Both performance and economy are possible with rotary. It’s very stable and quiet at standard revolutions, so some potential exists for that.”

This means that if Mazda does indeed bring back the rotary engine, it will act as a generator to juice up a battery pack, spinning constantly at a specific point of the rev band. But the emissions issue remains, with Mazda apparently testing various technologies to make a rotary engine clean enough. “We are investigating various kinds of emission systems to ensure ideal conditions,” said Hitomi.

As for when is Mazda’s deadline for this, new-age rotary-based powertrain, Hidetoshi Kudo, Executive Officer in charge of R&D Administration and Product Strategy noted “It’s Mazda’s centenary in 2020,” giving away perhaps the year we get to see the rotary return, even in this form.

Mazda RX-Vision concept pictured