'SkyActiv-R' may be the name of Mazda's next rotary engine

The sports car concept that Mazda will unveil at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show later this week will be a two-door, two-seater with a rotary engine under the hood, confirming years of speculation that Mazda will revive the Wankel engine for potential performance cars, according to a new report.

Mazda’s new rotary engine will be called SkyActiv-R, says Autocar. This information comes from a conversation with Mazda R&D chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara on the eve of the Tokyo show. Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai confirmed the concept’s two-seat layout, but would not say definitively if it will go into production, although others seemed optimistic.

Ever since Mazda discontinued the RX-8 in 2012, fans have been pushing for a replacement. Mazda itself largely denied that it was planning a new rotary sports car until recently, when it began dropping some interesting hints. When the firm announced the still-to-be-revealed sports car concept, it noted that a Cosmo 110S will be displayed alongside it. The appearance of Mazda’s first rotary sports car was certain to get fans’ attention.

Kogai has also said that Mazda has a dedicated team working on rotary engines. One of the major challenges of bringing rotary engines back to showrooms will likely be improving fuel economy and emissions. These were always the weak points of Mazda’s previous rotaries, and improvements will only become more important as government standards get tougher.

Mazda’s decision to build a rotary-powered concept car seems to indicate an intent to launch a new production model that could sit above the Miata, just as the old RX-8 and RX-7 did. It’s also possible that Mazda just wants to shamelessly milk its heritage. Or maybe it has something entirely different in mind.

The company has applied for patents for an electrified powertrain that uses a rotary engine as a range extender, similar to the setup used in the Chevrolet Volt. It demonstrated a prototype based on the Demio (known as the Mazda 2 in the U.S.) in 2013. California regulations may soon require the sale of some sort of electric car or plug-in hybrid, and this system could help it meet that requirement.

Of course, we’ll probably have a better idea of Mazda’s plans once the sports car concept is unveiled. And with the Tokyo Motor Show press days getting underway, we won’t have to wait long. Stay tuned.

Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.

New rumors say the Pixelbook 2 could show up at CES 2019

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.