Mazda’s Rotary is out; here comes the Hydrogen Cells image

The last Mazda using the rotary will roll off the assembly line this month at the company’s Hiroshima factory and headquarters. Yes, it’s the last one.

On paper, the rotary engine is fine concept that weighs less and runs smoother, but in practice rotary engines had little to recommend them over a similar piston-style engine.

But the automaker wants to go a step further: they want to fuel the rotary internal combustion engine with hydrogen. Yes, you read right – hydrogen. They won’t use a hydrogen fuel cell, but will burn the gas directly.

Mazda has dabbled in hydrogen-rotary technology already,leasing a limited number of hydrogen-powered RX-8’s since 2006.

Therefore there is some hope that the engine will live on.

“Production of the RX-8 will end, but the rotary engine will live on as an important part of Mazda’s spirit,” Takashi Yamanouchi, Mazda’s president, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg.

The company now thinks it can close the gap in electric vehicle technology with rivals Nissan and Mitsubishi by re-introducing rotary engines as a range-extender.

“We should be able to make the most of the rotary engine’s advantages, such as the ease of making it compact and safe,”said Mazda President Takashi Yamanouchi.