The Japanese automaker never had an enormous success with its rotary engine technology, but it certainly gained a cult following through the vehicles it deployed it in.
Now it seems Mazda is still unwilling to let it rest, though fans might not be so pleased hearing the rotary applications isn’t so much involving a new sports car, but a hybrid powertrain. Apparently recent patent applications filed by Mazda discuss the idea of extended-range electric vehicles with gasoline engines – one of them being very specific in rotary use. It appears the patent mentions a start-stop system for the Wankel engine that would precisely control where the engine shuts down during the operating cycle. In the second patent is a hybrid configuration for an extended-range electric setup, suggesting the start-stop system for the rotary would not be used as a stand-alone application.
By the way, you may remember this is not the first-time Mazda develops and researches a rotary-hybrid application – some years ago they showed off a Mazda 2 plug-in hybrid that made use of a small Wankel engine to function as the range-extender. As far as its career as a high-performance engine is concerned, this type has always attracted polarizing opinions. Proponents talk about the smooth operation and compact size versus the amount of power – the others bring out the virtual absence of torque, dismal fuel economy, extensive maintenance requirements, and a reputation for failed reliability.