Mazda may already have the next generation of engine technology in its grasp

By Product Expert | Posted in Technology on Friday, December 28th, 2018 at 8:18 pm
A photo of a rotary engine badge worn by an older Mazda vehicle.

Will Mazda ever make a hydrogen-powered vehicle?

The next few years are almost guaranteed to contain a flurry of advancements in automotive technology that hasn’t been seen since for a few generations. Most automakers, including Mazda, are always on the lookout for ways to make vehicles cleaner and more fuel-efficient. As it happens, a recent article posted on the Road and Track website seems to believe that Mazda already has the expertise it needs to be a leader in the industry. So, will Mazda ever make a hydrogen-powered vehicle? For American buyers, that is unclear at this point; but the manufacturer did briefly tow with this technology in its native Japan. Let’s take a look at why this could be a possibility.

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An engine platform waiting for a new fuel

Remember the Mazda RX-8? It was an innovative vehicle that used the Mazda Wankel rotary engine. To call the platform ‘ahead of its time’ would be a gross understatement. However, Bob Sorokanich of RoadandTrack.com seems to think it is time to give it another chance.

Sorokanich had a lot of positive things to say about the rotary engine, especially how its ability to produce a lot of power from a small and lightweight package that also uses fewer moving parts than a piston-based engine. He also pointed out the technology’s problems, namely that rotary engines don’t burn fuel as efficiently as a piston engine which leads to higher emissions.

In order to illustrate how rotary engines would be perfect for a vehicle that employs hydrogen as fuel, he turns to popular YouTube channel “Engineering Explained” and its host Jason Fenske. In the video embedded below, Fenske uses a 3D-printed model to make the concept of a hydrogen-based rotary engine a bit more digestible to those of us who aren’t actually engineers. If you’re curious how this will work, we suggest watching the video.

However, (spoiler alert) the same elements that made the rotary engine not work well with gasoline are the same things that could make it successful with hydrogen.

If you don’t want to wait for the Mazda rotary engine to come back, if it ever does, you can still visit the Gorman McCracken Mazda showroom to see why our sedans, hatchbacks and crossover SUVs are some of the best in each industry segment they occupy.

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