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Small engine manufacturer LiquidPiston is developing a tiny, lightweight, super-efficient engine that functions a lot like Wankel rotary units.
Yet against the odds, the Japanese automaker seems to have found a formula to keep the smooth-spinning screamer alive in its lineup.
Mitsuo Hitomi, general manager of powertrain development at Mazda recently said that the company plans to complete development of such an engine that will also meet future fuel-economy and emissions standards.
“We think we’ve found a way to improve the rotary’s fuel economy to be truly equal to that of conventional piston engines and, if so, we believe we can reintroduce the rotary to the market,” Hitomi recently told Ward’s Auto.
Much of the new technological breakthrough came in changing the shape of the troichoid housing so that the seals remained flush to the housing. Better sealing means better fuel economy and overall performance. Since the early days of rotary engines, its seals and its “sealability” have always been an issue, dating back to the mid-1960s. “Even with our current 1.3L Renesis rotary, gaps can develop between the apex seal and troichoid housing in light-load operation when imbalances in centrifugal force and gas pressure occur,” Himoti said.
The next engineering enhancement for the new rotary engine will be a focus on ignition. Unfortunately the engineer couldn’t explain on how the Japanese automaker plans on addressing that problem.
Regardless of the improvements made in the next-generation rotary engine, we expect to see it being used for extended-range electric vehicles and Mazda’s Skyactiv technology to be incorporated.
[Source: Wards Auto]
The Mazda RX-8′s production run has already ended for much of the world, but Japan is sending off the last rotary engine equipped sports car (for the time being) with a special run of 1,000 cars dubbed the “Spirit R”.
Special badging, red brake calipers, Recaro seats and 18″ wheels are the main highlights of the package, while a choice of Aluminum Metallic, Sparkling Black Mica or Crystal White Pearl Mica paint will be offered for the exterior.
While the Spirit R will be offered only with a 6-speed manual, an automatic-equipped Type E will also be sold for those who only want two pedals.
Gallery: Mazda RX-8 Spirit R
Hit the jump to see the official press release
The famous 1991 24-Hours of Le Mans winner, the Mazda 787B will be featured at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Ex-Formula 1 driver and Le Mans veteran Mike Wilds and current Mazda works driver Mark Ticehurst will be racing the 787B up the hallowed Goodwood hill for the festival this weekend. The race car returns to mark the 20th anniversary of its famous victory in the demanding 24-Hours of Le Mans.
Mazda’s 787B made history in 1991 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by becoming the first Japanese car to win the event. It’s victory lap was also its last as after 1991, rotary engines could not participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Mazda is still the only Japanese car manufacturer to win Le Mans.
The 787B is powered by a 700-hp rotary engine which has a top speed of 210mph.
The 787B will also join the MX-5 GT race car which is powered by a 275-hp 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated engine featuring a six-speed sequential paddle-shift gearbox, carbonfibre doors and polycarbonate windows. The car has a kerb weight of just 850kg and can accelerate from 0-60mph in just three seconds.
Gallery: Mazda 787B
With the passing of the Mazda RX-8 this year, many believe this might be the end of the famous wankel-rotary engine, especially since there is no replacement model in sight.
The rotary engine might be down for now, but don’t count it out just yet, as Mazda is now developing a new rotary engine, with a special new ignition system.
Word from Japan is, that the next generation of rotary engine, which is currently known as 16X Renesis, will use lasers instead of spark plugs. A laser would need a smaller hole on the combustion chamber, which would help in more controlled combustion and hence would improve fuel economy, which has long been the downfall of the rotary motor.
The new engine is said to have grown in size, from 1.3-liters to 1.6-liters, however since it is partly made from aluminum and is physically smaller, it will be lighter and more powerful than the old 13B motor.
Could this mean the return of the RX-7? Here’s hoping.
Rotaries may seem like a thing of the past these days, especially with Mazda preparing to retire the RX-8. But the Wankel-powered sports car won’t be the last Mazda to get the odd powerplant, thanks in part to a recent breakthrough.
A recently big step forward for Mazda’s engineers is a newly developed laser ignition system that can remove spark plugs from the equation. This has made sealing the Wankel’s combustion chamber easier, resulting in better efficiency and, more importantly, lower hydrocarbon emissions.
This breakthrough could prove to be the catalyst Mazda needs to rejuvenate the RX-7 model, but it all comes down to finding the proper funding.
That influx of cash could come from a partnership with Audi. The two automakers are reportedly in talks and Audi’s A1 e-tron concept did use a 254cc Wankel range-extender underneath the trunk floor. The light weight, smooth and quiet rotary technology could prove the perfect pairing for a future production hybrid drivetrain for Audi.
[Source: Inside Line]
Even though this isn’t a genuine 1972 Ferrari Dino 245 GT, the Magnum kit car makes for a great replica. Most interesting about this entire replica is the fact that it sports a 13B rotary powerplant under the hood with a turbocharger paired to it. The entire combination is mated to a 914 transmission and currently sports only 3,800 miles.
Those interested would be pleased to know that the body is in immaculate shape according to the seller. It’s always been garaged and has a current registration. Best of all, the title has been changed to SPCN (specially constructed vehicles) which essentially makes it a 1972 Ferrari Dino in the eyes of the law. Therefore, there’s no need for smog and all the smog devices have been removed.
The replica sports a lot of modern technology, including disc brakes, a brake proportioning valve, Carrera adjustable shocks, a Wolf 3D engine management system and VDO gauges. For cooling purposes, it sports a front-mounted racing radiator with dual electrical fans and functional side intakes – one to the intercooler, one to the oil cooler.
The car definitely looks immaculate and if you value individuality, this might just be the car for you.
GALLERY: Rotary-Powered Ferrari Dino 245 GT Replica
Bad news for Mazda rotary engine enthusiasts – the company has no plans to build the RX-9 hybrid sports car, contrary to recent rumors. Even worse, minimal sales of the RX8 may jeopardize the Mazda rotary engine all together.
Production of the Mazda RX-8 is drawing to a close, with U.S sales of just 291 units from January to April of this year. With production halting on the RX-8, there won’t be a Mazda vehicle to utilize the Wankel 1.3-liter engine. However there is discussion of reviving the RX-7 as a replacement. There is no official go ahead with the RX-7, however it would most likely utilize the next-generation MX-5 platform.
The death of the RX-8 is sad, most notably for its stellar chassis and steering, however issues like horrible fuel consumption, burning oil and a lack of torque were always sore points.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Mazda is still developing their next-generation rotary engine, dubbed the 16X, but development has been slowed by a number of issues, among them the engine’s failure to meet emissions targets.
Even though the 16X is expected to bring a 30 percent increase in fuel economy compared to the current 1.3L rotary engine, the 16X is so far off from emissions targets that it will take Mazda a minimum of two years before they can determine a timeline for bringing it to market.
The upcoming SKYACTIV engines and gearboxes also took much needed resources to develop, but one Mazda engineer re-affirmed the company’s commitment to the rotary engine, stating “we will never give up”.
[Source: Automotive News]
We’ve heard of people swapping Mazda rotary engines into older Miatas, but if reports out of Japan are to be believed, the next MX-5, due out in 2012, will come standard with an all new, super efficient rotary engine – as well as a hybrid system.
7Tune is reporting that an article in the Japanese magazine Best Car outlines Mazda’s plans for a “rotary hybrid” MX-5, set to compete with the “Hybrid Sports” competitors from Honda and Toyota. After that, things start to get a little suspect, as 7Tune reports that
“According to the popular magazine, Mazda is pondering whether to offer their newly developed Sky-G Hybrid Rotary Engine in a 1.2 liter ( commonly known as the 12A ) or 1.3 liter ( commonly known as the 13B ) engine capacity for their venerable Roadster.”
Despite these claims, the SKY-G has previously been announced as a highly-efficient piston engine, while the 12A – and the 13B for that matter- hasn’t been build for a couple decades. Last December, the SKY-G seemed to be a sure bet for the MX-5, and the engine was confirmed off the record through Mazda sources, who stressed that the new car would be an ultra-lightweight affair, with a 1.3L SKY-G being an integral part of the package. To put a rotary into an MX-5 would be a dangerous blurring of Mazda’s two strongest brands, their RX sports cars (famous for their rotary engines) and the MX-5 (which follows the classic 2-seat, bare bones sports car format that has made it so successful).
On the other hand, Mazda recently announced a patent for a new type of integrated electric motor, mounted in the wheel hub. A compact system like this could actually work on a car like the MX-5, where packaging and a light weight are essential, bu only time will tell what powertrain Mazda decides to go with for their iconic sports car, but with over 1 million cars sold over 20 years, Mazda has a lot of customers that they can’t afford to alienate, and a hybrid system would be the antithesis of the no frills experience that made the MX-5 such a hit.
File this one under “completely out of left field.” GM engineers are looking for any possible way to cut costs from their Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, and anything is currently on the table. Among the possibilities being investigated is a rotary engine, a powerplant long abandoned by nearly every automaker except Mazda, who still produces the rotary-powered RX8 sports car.
GM once experimented with a rotary Corvette, but the idea was quickly scrapped. The rotary has a few drawbacks, namely oil and gasoline consumption, but there are also positives; the engine is unbelievably smooth, loves to rev and incredibly compact. The RX8′s rotary is a little larger than a basketball, and the Volt’s rotary would likely be smaller, giving the car a nice reduction in weight.
Also being investigated are a diesel engine, or a small two-cylinder gas engine. GM is also hoping to cut the cost of the battery pack from $10,000 to $5,000, in order to help the car be economically viable.
[Source: Inside Line]
The Mazda RX8 has led a rich, full life as one of the finest sports cars you can buy for under $40,000. Never the quickest car in a straight line, the RX8 was always a dominant car in autocross, and a good way to put a smile on your face when blasting down a back road.
The RX8 was slated to exit the European market this year anyways, officially due to stringent Euro V emissions standards, but slow sales in North America have hastened its exit from our shores as well. If you still want one, the R3 model, with various suspension bits, Recaro seats and fancy wheels is the one to get, but deep discounts are sure to be had on virtually all models. Picking up a newRX8 for the price of a Civic Si is a realistic prospect depending on where you live.
In the mean time, speculation continues on what Mazda’s newest rotary project will be. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for an all-new RX7.