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Mazda advances R&D of future rotary engines

BRAAAAP: The rotary engine won't be found in the next Mazda sports car, instead acting as a generator in plug-in hybrid models.

RE Development Group reinstated as Mazda evolves rotary engines for PHEV generator use

1 Feb 2024

MAZDA has announced that it will reinstate its RE Development Group within its Powertrain Technology Development Department as it seeks to evolve the rotary engine (RE) for use as a generator within plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).


In a statement issued this week, Mazda Motor Corporation said it will accelerate its research and development of rotary engines that are adapted to the new era in its efforts to continue to deliver the joy of cars through solutions that are appropriate for the times.


The new RE Development Group will continue to evolve rotary engines as generators and will conduct research and development in areas including regulatory compliance in major markets, as well as the application of carbon-neutral (synthetic) fuels.


“In Mazda’s history, the rotary engine is a special symbol of our challenger spirit,” said Mazda Motor Corporation director, senior managing executive officer and chief technology officer Ichiro Hirose.


“We are deeply grateful to all those who have supported RE to date and are pleased to announce the rebirth of the organisation that develops RE, the engine that has been loved by customers around the world.


“For the last six years, RE engineers have been part of the engine development organisation where they engaged in the development of state-of-the-art internal combustion engine functions as well as the ultimate improvement in efficiency.


“Those engineers have broadened their perspective beyond the boundaries of engine systems and have trained themselves to master the Model-Based Development, which is one of Mazda’s engineering strengths.


“This time, 36 engineers will gather in one group to make a breakthrough in the research and development of RE. In the age of electrification and in a carbon-neutral society, we promise to keep delivering attractive cars that excite customers with our challenger spirit.”


Mazda first employed the rotary engine in 1967 beneath the bonnet of its iconic Cosmo Sport coupe. The RE was used in dozens of vehicle models in the decades that followed, each generation with improved output, exhaust performance, fuel economy, and durability.


After calling time on the RE in 2012, the Hiroshima-based company resumed mass production of vehicles with rotary engines with the introduction of the Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV, which has since been sold in Japan and to parts of Europe.


The news comes just a week after Mazda patented a new two-stroke engine design with the Japanese patent office.


The unit features supercharged induction and a clever exhaust gas regeneration system and includes functions of both two- and four-stroke units – as well as combustion methods found in both diesel and petrol engines – to send power to the road with every revolution of the crankshaft.


In deference to emissions reduction, Mazda has opted to fit a variable camshaft for full EGR and timing control that provides the benefit of exhaust retention within the combustion chamber during low-RPM scenarios resulting in increased compression, better efficiency, and more power.


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