The rotary engine is the powertrain of the future – and always will be, declares the engineers who have spent frustrating decades trying to overcome the once-promising Wankel engine’s drawbacks.
Small, light and powerful, the rotary seemed destined for glory, with makers such as General Motors, Mazda and American Motors among the many manufacturers committed to using the engine back in the 1970s. But then the first Mideast energy crisis struck and all but Mazda were forced to abandon the Wankel due to its relatively poor fuel economy.
Over the years, Mazda has scaled back rotary applications but never abandoned the technology – and now, the Japanese maker may have come up with an intriguing solution, using a laser ignition system, instead of conventional spark plugs to boost the Wankel’s fuel efficiency.
The British magazine AutoCar quotes a “senior,” albeit unidentified Mazda engineer involved with the ongoing development of Mazda’s next-generation rotary, known as the 16X Renesis.