Mazda’s Rotary Engine Will Return! There’s Just One Catch

Yes, Mazda will build the rotary engine again, but it's not what you expect.

2016 Mazda RX-VISION concept

Mazda will build a rotary engine, but only as a range extender.

Rumors have swirled for years – since the demise of the RX-8 – about whether Mazda would ever build another rotary engine. After all, the company spent decades refining Felix Wankel’s design, culminating in the legendary RX series, which ran through 2012. Now, Mazda officially announced the rotary engine would return in 2020…but not where you might expect.

2016 Mazda RX-VISION concept
Sadly, it does not appear Mazda will build a purely rotary-engined sports car again, as was originally thought with the RX-VISION concept. [Photo: Mazda]
Instead of functioning as a primary source of power for one of Mazda’s new models, it’s going to serve as an EV range extender. In their press release, Mazda stated they would develop two new electric vehicles. Mazda will build one full battery-electric model, while the other will use a rotary range extender. Not only that, but Mazda is designing the range extender to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and provide a source of electricity in emergencies.

2016 Mazda RX-VISION concept
Future Mazda cars will have some form of electrication by 2030. [Photo: Mazda]
Perhaps not that triumphant return of the rotary engine enthusiasts were hoping for. However, Mazda wants to use the rotary engine as a means to work toward electrification. By doing that, the company aims to reduce their CO2 emissions to just 10 percent of 2010 levels by 2050. By the year 2030, Mazda promises to electrify all of its production vehicles.

Mazda didn’t specifically mention anything else about these new electric vehicles. The rotary engine, however, is Mazda’s plan for introducing a lightweight, high-power range extender for their future models. We expect to find out more closer to the car’s 2020 introduction.