Sheesh, when will these heart-wrenching ups and downs stop?
It’s the rumor that never dies: the one that mentions how Mazda will be hitting the market with a highly impractical but hugely appealing rotary engine to invoke nostalgia. And it seems to resurface. Every. Frigging. Year. And now, just months after getting a whiff of evidence that the Japanese automaker was still cooking up a modern rotary, which was then shot down by Mazda itself, DriveTribe comes to us with news of a patent that details a highly specific invention.
In this case, it’s a start/stop system, similar to the one seen on many modern cars, but in this case, it’s optimized for use on a rotary engine. The patent itself details how it will shut down the rotors “in a position that closes the intake port to ensure no fuel or exhaust emissions slip through the intake tract.” As DriveTribe goes on to explain, rotary engines have no valves, making the blockage of an intake port crucial to enable a rotary engine to start and stop successfully. There’s absolutely no reason for Mazda to file a patent like this if it has no rotary engine in the works, which should give enthusiastic fans a glimmer of hope that there actually is a rotary in the pipeline.
With automakers doing everything possible to build an engine that pollutes as little as it can, a rotary engine’s inherently wasteful design makes no sense. A start/stop system could serve to quell some of that waste, but would have to be used in conjunction with other fuel-saving technologies to be viable. Which brings us to the other patent Mazda has drawn up. This one details a hybrid system, though unlike one in a Toyota Prius that feeds both gasoline and electrically-derived kinetic energy into the powertrain, this system is more of a battery-dominated one where the gasoline engine is used as a range extender.
If an electric Mazda with a rotary range extender makes it to market, it would prove to be a bit of a cruel trick on the automaker's part, but at least it could claim that it’s satisfied rotary fans to some extent. Don’t hold your breath for this one. Or do, because we love to let our imaginations run wild too. Note: Mazda RX-Vision Concept pictured.