Mazda Wankel Rumored to Become Hydrogen-Powered Range Extender

Mazda have been using the Wankel rotary engine since the 1960s and have steadily improved the concept over the past five decades, having used it in racing and road cars with varying degrees of success. It does, however, have a problem: it uses way too much fuel for what it can offer, regardless of how clever and different it may be. For instance, in its latest application, in the Mazda RX-8, the engine used up around 16 - 17 l/100km (17.5 - 16.5 UK mpg) in town - really poor number compared to most other cars out there.
Mazda Wankel 1 photo
Photo: Mazda
They have stuck with it, though, and there may be a brighter future for it, if reports that it will be used as a hydrogen-powered range extender for a yet-unknown hybrid which, according to, will have limited availability as a lease, in 2013. President of Mazda, Takashi Yamanouchi is very confident in the Wankel, sating very clearly that they “should be able to make the most of the rotary engine’s advantages, such as the ease of making it compact and safe”.

Mazda need to move quickly, in the ever changing automotive market of the world, which under ‘threat’ from the EV may leave some manufacturers without a customer base if they can’t offer competitive fuel-sippling (or preferably non-fuel-sipping) alternatives. The Japanese automaker reported losses of €1- ($1.3-) billion last year which they plan to turn into a €95- ($125-) million profit by the end of the fiscal year 2012. We have not lost faith in Mazda, as with their recent Fiat partnership and their Skyactiv program, they may have a few tricks still left to pull and we’re eager to find out what they are.

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