Mazda's Rotary to Spin Again

Mazda Rotary Engine Hybrid Patent

New drawings show Mazda is pushing ahead with rotary development

Mazda fans will be overjoyed with confirmation that the Japanese brand is keeping its most famous engine configuration alive.

Although there are no current Mazda vehicles powered by the Wankel rotary design, the company’s in-house research department tasked with evolving this engine technology, has never seen a funding cut.

The result of that is a new patent application drawing which clearly shows that rotaries are very much part of Mazda’s future product planning.

Drawings filed at the Japanese patent office show a new hybrid vehicle architecture from Mazda. It features all-wheel drive by virtue of a rotary engine, in combination with a smallish lithium-ion battery pack and capacitors.

Weight has been one of the most significant engineering challenges for electric vehicles. Batteries are heavy and unlike fuel, they don’t become lighter as you journey.

Mazda’s solution to this has been a lower energy density 3.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is very light. To ensure decent performance, the company’s engineers have integrated capacitors.

So where does the rotary engine revival come into all of this? Well, hybrid petrol-electric engines are a technical nightmare to package and integrate. Mazda’s rotary is wonderfully compact, which makes its packaging a lot easier within the hybrid system.

The use of in-wheel electric motors is a way for Mazda to profit from the charging and discharging ability of capacitors, which have thus far been a peripheral technology in vehicle electrification.

Where this new rotary-hybrid drivetrain will be of use, remains unclear for now. Mazda’s patent application indicates serious intent and a likely candidate could be the brand’s unconfirmed RX9 or possibly a large luxury crossover.

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