Mazda rotary engine development team will reunite, CEO accidentally reveals at Tokyo Auto Salon

The Tokyo Auto Salon is happening right now, and Japan’s carmakers have flocked to the event to show off their enthusiast-oriented offerings. Mazda was there to show off race and street modified Roadsters and 3 hatchbacks, but accidentally revealed some much more important information. According to CEO Masahiro Moro, he has quietly reunited the rotary engine development team for the first time in six years.

Apparently, Mazda was inspired by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Iconic SP concept car shown at the Japan Mobility Show (formerly Tokyo Motor Show) in October. “We received a lot of support and encouragement for our compact sports car concept, the Mazda Iconic SP,” Moro said in Response. I am very happy and very moved. With your encouragement, we will launch a rotary engine development group on February 1 to bring this dream closer to reality.”

“The rotary engine development group was disbanded in 2018, and when we developed SkyActiv, the rotary engine engineers also focused on SkyActive development for a long time,” Moro explained. “The members of the rotary engine development group, who have learned about piston engines, model-based development, and the world’s most advanced combustion technology, will focus on the rotary engine again and be involved in the development of engine combustion and emissions. Engine development requires a variety of engineers, but we will restart with about 30 engineers for the core development of the rotary engine.”

However, it seems that Moro-san may have accidentally revealed the rotary development team’s reunion. “I have not announced the personnel changes yet, but since I slipped up and said it, there may be a lot of unrest within the company,” he told Response.

As for the Mazdas that were supposed to catch the Tokyo Auto Salon headlines, the company revealed an ND Roadster and Mazda 3 tuned under their Spirit Racing sub-brand. These cars are intended to be street cars that owners can take to the track. They come with circuit-tuned suspensions and aerodynamics developed with knowledge gleaned from Mazda’s participation in the Super Taikyu endurance series. They’re also finished in a new shade of gray that is likely the successor the beautiful but discontinued Ceramic.

Mazda also introduced two new race cars that will participate in the Super Taikyu series this year. Both use sustainable fuels as part of Mazda’s quest for carbon neutrality that doesn’t sacrifice the unique properties of the traditional combustion engine. The ND Roadster CNF is powered by a synthetic fuel that can be used in the  car’s standard gasoline 2.0-liter engine without modification. The fuel is being jointly developed by Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki.

The Mazda 3 is powered by a 2.2-liter SkyActiv-D diesel engine that runs on biodiesel. The diesel is a form of hydrogenated vegetable oil, and can come from multiple sources such as Euglena, a type of algae that produces a diesel-like oil, and Neste, a drop-in diesel fuel made from waste oils and fats.

And finally, Mazda showed two ND Roadsters that expand the scope of driving enjoyment. The first is the Roadster SeDV, which stands for Self-empowerment Driving Vehicle, and was designed for people with disabilities and can be driven by using only hands. The black ND is a Club car that complies with the Super Taikyu ST-5 class. It’s intended as an entry-level race car that puts racers who have graduated from grassroots-level racing and are moving into professional motorsports.

All of these cars are show Mazda’s commitment to driving for its own sake. However, the slip of the rotary team’s reunion may have overshadowed them.

Images courtesy of Mazda.

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9 Responses to Mazda rotary engine development team will reunite, CEO accidentally reveals at Tokyo Auto Salon

  1. BlitzPig says:

    I hope they can bring us a new rotary engine that meets emission regs, and is durable, and will be the main source of motive power, and not just some “range extender” auxiliary engine.

  2. Ian N says:

    They ALL are some beautiful vehicles – quite unusual in this era of chunky godawful 4×4 beasts.

  3. Alan says:

    Surprised by the response? Please, they know very well how passionate rotary enthusiasts re for the Wankel engine, it’s not like we’re a quiet bunch.

    Let’s hope this goes somewhere!

  4. Mark Newtoon-John says:

    Everyone goes ggaga over the next sport coupe, and the manufacturers buy it, but it will always come down to sales numbers. I read Toyota Supra sales have dropped off.
    I’ve seen it before, the Pontiac GTO, Ford Thunderbird… WOW, I WANT ONE. Then they come out and people still buy lookalike SUVs.

  5. BlitzPig says:

    The Supra faced an uphill battle from the start.

    A: It’s ugly

    B: It’s just a thinly veiled BMW, that in the long run will end up doing BMW things and be very costly to maintain.

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