AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
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]
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]
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]