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Mazda Stops Production of the Last Rotary Engine Powered Car

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the ever-twirling-toward-speed dept.

Transportation 359

Hugh Pickens writes "After a 45-year production run, Mazda Motor Corp announced that the latest edition of the Mazda RX-8 will end production in June 2012. The Japanese automaker ... introduced its first rotary engine car in 1967 and is the only automaker in the world that makes rotary engine vehicles, once the darling of the automotive industry. Such engines have fewer moving parts and are quieter than comparable piston engines but are more expensive to manufacture and consume more fuel. Cumulative sales of Mazda vehicles with rotary engines total about 1.995 million but Mazda sold only 2,896 RX-8 cars last year, with 1,245 of them in North America and 963 in Japan. 'Although R-X production is ending, the rotary engine will always represent the spirits of Mazda, and Mazda remains committed to its ongoing development,' says Mazda Chief Executive and President Takashi Yamanouchi recalling the victory of Mazda's rotary engine at Le Mans 20 years ago... Mazda does not have flashy green technologies in its lineup that its bigger Japanese rivals do — such as the hybrids at Toyota Motor Corp. or electric vehicles at Nissan Motor Co. The fading away of its prized rotary engine — although largely symbolic — is yet another blow."

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Cumulative sales. . . 1.995 million (2)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683578)

Mazda sold only 2,896 RX-8 cars last year, with 1,245 of them in North America and 963 in Japan. Cumulative sales of Mazda vehicles with rotary engines total about 1.995 million as of the end of August

Unless my math is off, it looks like final cumulative sales will fall just short of 2 million cars:

2,896 cars/year is 241.33 cars/month; even assuming the end is on 30 June that means only 10 more months of production -- a total of 2413.33 cars -- for a cumulative total of 1.9974 million (only to the precision of the starting "about" 1.995 million, of course). Man, just one year short. Maybe there will be enough sympathy sales that final year to put them over the top?

I need to get out more.

Re:Cumulative sales. . . 1.995 million (0)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683604)

That's 2,896 total last year, not per month. The 1.995million figure is for total rotary powered cars over the past half century. I recommend more reading, less math.

Re:Cumulative sales. . . 1.995 million (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683620)

My bad, I mistook your point that they are almost at 2 million.

Re:Cumulative sales. . . 1.995 million (2)

Grave (8234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683884)

Needs "+1 Ironic" modifier...

Re:Cumulative sales. . . 1.995 million (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683608)

Mazda sold only 2,896 RX-8 cars last year, with 1,245 of them in North America and 963 in Japan.

Yeah, I can't imagine that had anything to do with how much of a pedestrian piece of shit the RX-8 is compared to the beast that was the RX-7. Surely not.

MOD PARENT -1 REDUNDANT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683632)

Unless my math is off, it looks like final cumulative sales will fall just short of 2 million cars:

Yeah, your math is off. You were clearly more concerned about getting first post.

There's nothing spectacular about the Rotary (4, Interesting)

nido (102070) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683724)

The Mazda rotaries have traditionally worn out prematurely (needing rebuilds after 80-100k because of oil leaks), and they get relatively poor fuel economy. The design has a slightly higher power/weight ratio, but that specific advantage doesn't outweigh the many disadvantages.

I'm watching the MYT engine [angellabsllc.com] , which is a swing-piston engine [wikipedia.org] . Raphial doesn't want to sell out to someone who'd kill it or bury it, and hasn't found anyone to loan him enough to get his factory off the ground.

Re:There's nothing spectacular about the Rotary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683810)

Wake up! Modern Rotary's last WAY longer than 100k... Mazda long ago solved the lobe contact points problem that plagued older models. Regardless if they had lower fuel economy, a comparatively smaller motor produced more HP than its similarly sized piston engine; thus the economy of the motor was effectively moot. The ONLY disadvantage that a rotary ever had was in cooling. The Rotary Engine is a truly elegant design compared to the hurkey-jerky piston engine any day!

Re:There's nothing spectacular about the Rotary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683892)

"thus the economy of the motor was effectively moot. "

That makes no sense whatsoever.

And the rotary engine was a failure for that and several other reasons, which is why it didn't take over the automotive world, and the last company making them is hanging it up.

Re:There's nothing spectacular about the Rotary (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684188)

The #1 problem with the rotary was meeting emissions requirements followed by seals wearing out. Mazda was the only one doing R&D on them through out and the only one in a position to produce them without massive investment in R&D to get them market ready. Mazda managed to solve the problems with the engine. Unfortunately the RX line has always been a misfit in their product lineup. Though certainly more affordable they had a hard time finding a significant customer base not unlike the GT-R, Viper, Corvette, etc.. They're more of a mascot, a source of pride than anything. The cars themselves were excellent and the RX-8 was certainly hard to match in handling even against far more expensive competitors.

All that said however, Mazda is NOT quitting the rotary business. The RX-8 is being retired only to be replaced with the next generation, RX-7 [auto-types.com] . pics [google.com]

Re:There's nothing spectacular about the Rotary (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683940)

Modern Rotary's what?

Re:Cumulative sales. . . 1.995 million (1)

MichaelKristopeit344 (1967644) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684030)

stopping production does not mean stopping sales. if they didn't actually manufacture 2 million cars, they can't sell 2 million cars... new wall street rules, and all... what do you think the protests are about?

So sad! (2)

enigma32 (128601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683644)

I love my RX-7! The rotary engine is really an engineering marvel. Too bad they never had the resources to work on the efficiency like everyone did with piston engines.

I was saving for years to be able to buy an RX-9 if/when it hit the market (Which has been rumored for years, and supposedly was coming near to release in the next few years... guess that wasn't the case).

So long, wankel!
(I'll still continue to love and drive my RX-7, of course...)

Re:So sad! (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683796)

Indeed... I drove a 2nd generation turbo RX-7 for about 10 years until the late 90s and still miss the ride. It purred like a kitten right up to the redline at 7,000 rpm, and handled like a slot car. Went from that to a pickup truck, which has its own virtues, but it's still sad to see the rotaries go out of production.

Re:So sad! (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683964)

I still feel uncomfortable when I hear the phrase "Wankel Rotary Engine".

Re:So sad! (1)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684254)

Assuming that you are not trolling, you seem to suffer discomfort when reading a benign word that sounds similar to the word "wanker".

This is a telling sign of concerning mental issues that need to be resolved for you to function correctly in society.

I highly recommend that you seek professional help.

Re:So sad! (1)

dohnut (189348) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684008)

I really liked, but never owned, the RX-7. I thought I'd get an RX-8 when they were announced. Call me shallow but I just didn't like the look of the car. I really don't like the protruding front fenders. Actually, I really don't like the whole front end. From an aesthetic point of view I prefer the RX-7 (3rd gen) over the RX-8 but to each his own.

Re:So sad! (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684178)

Lack of R&D resources was definitely a problem, but the simple fact is that a Wankel crankcase is just a hell of a lot harder to machine than than the simple cylinders of a conventional engine.

Re:So sad! (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684228)

Well, I think I would have bought one if I could get a FWD or AWD one. I live in a snowy state though and won't buy a RWD car.

Re:So sad! (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684286)

Don't worry [auto-types.com] . As usual someone isn't doing their research [oncars.in] before posting.

No green tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683656)

Perhaps 'Hugh Pickens' should read up on Mazda's SKYACTIV technology.
http://www.mazda.com/mazdaspirit/skyactiv/

Re:No green tech? (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683828)

Don't have much time to delve, but it that skyactiv tech is a package deal of their most efficient tech...and I can't tell what models are skyactiv or what not...

-14.0:1 compression ratio
-more torque at low end
-some kind of 'better' transmission...
-etc, help me out here ;)

I feel a disturbance... (5, Funny)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683658)

Like a million apex seals cried out in unison, and were then ejected from the tailpipe.

Re:I feel a disturbance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683700)

Then half a million owners used blockweld in their radiators in order not to pay for a rebuild... It works for under 100 of them ;)

Efficiency check (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683692)

Is it really less efficient? As I understood it, the rotary engine gives an equivalent HP compared to a piston engine at a fraction of the displacement.

Check the MPG (2)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683734)

Its not all that great for a sports car. The other downside is it consumes more oil and requires a rebuild every so many miles. From an engineering standpoint it make more sense. Why convert the opposing force of the pistons to a rotation when you could generate the rotation force itself?

Now given the choice would I drive one? Hell yeah.

Re:Efficiency check (2)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683764)

So does a 2-stroke, and it's definitely less efficient.

Re:Efficiency check (3, Informative)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683780)

The displacement number in rotary engines is quite misleading. The design is so different than a piston based engine that it's not a fair comparison. You're getting more power because you're getting more power strokes per rotation. Because you're getting more power strokes, you're doing more intake strokes (more fuel). So while power/displacement ratio is better, that doesn't necessarily affect the power/fuel ratio at all.

Re:Efficiency check (2)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684150)

That's a good explanation.

The other problem with rotary engines is that they're rare and therefore a lot of mechanics don't know how to work on them. In some areas, you're pretty much limited to going to the dealership for service, which is usually a lot more expensive than an independent. So in a nutshell, they might make more power in a smaller space, but they cost more both in mileage and maintenance.

Their big advantage (at least, the big advantage I perceived back in the 80's when I was drooling at the RX-7) is that because the engine can be smaller, the whole car can be lower, because you don't have to have the hood as high as you would to cover an equivalent-power piston engine. That advantage has been negated by all the pedestrian safety laws which require the front end of a car to be high enough that if you hit someone, they won't cartwheel into the windshield. Since the hood has to be that high anyway, you don't get any stylistic advantage from a more compact engine.

Re:Efficiency check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683944)

As I understood it, the rotary engine gives an equivalent HP compared to a piston engine at a fraction of the displacement.

It does indeed do that. However, that's not the definition of "efficient".

"Efficient" really means that it produces equal or more horsepower with lower brake specific fuel consumption [wikipedia.org] .

A Wankel (rotary) engine does produce more horsepower with less displacement size, and also generally with a lower overall total installed engine weight (the engine plus all it's needed accessories to make a usable powerplant in a vehicle), but a Wankel also guzzles fuel and blows a lot of unburned fuel out it's exhaust, giving you less efficient fuel burn plus a lot more pollution to deal with. These two factors plus high maintenance / less hours of runtime before needing overhauled, compose a triple-whammy that spells the end to the practical use of a Wankel engine in a car.

So what's the advantage? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683698)

So the main advantages of this engine are that it's quieter and has fewer moving parts, while the downside is that it's more expensive and less fuel efficient.

So why would i want one of these? There have been a lot of improvements to noise reduction with regular engines so that's not as big a deal as it once might have been. Does fewer moving parts mean fewer breakdowns? It could, but it doesn't have to. It's always possible that the fewer parts have a higher individual rate of failure that balances things out. And when it does break how do the repair costs compare? If it breaks half as often but costs twice as much to fix when it does then i'm not really gaining a great deal in the process. And of course with gas prices hovering just below $4 a gallon where i live the fuel economy thing is kinda important.

Re:So what's the advantage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683766)

So why would i want one of these?

So you can be driving a triangle! Isn't it cool to be driving around powered by a spinning triangle.

Re:So what's the advantage? (3, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683844)

Not only that, but the triangle is spinning inside a peanut!

Who *wouldn't* want a triangle-peanut powered car?

Re:So what's the advantage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683776)

The advantage is power to weight ratio. A rotary engine will be much lighter than a similar performing piston cylinder engine. This makes them great for racing where you want to be as light as possible and fuel consumption is less of a concern. In racing, they are generally classed with piston cylinder engines that are twice the displacement.

Re:So what's the advantage? (1)

praxis (19962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684022)

Since when is fuel consumption not a concern in racing? Fuel has mass, and volume.

Re:So what's the advantage? (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684232)

But with a fuel cell and a smaller engine, it's easier to pull off a 50/50 weight distribution using a more conventional frame than using a heavier piston engine.

Why is power to weight so high? (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684128)

It turns out that the power to weight ratio on a rotary is high because they can increase the RPM quite a bit higher. That is possible due to the perfect balance that can be achieved with the pure rotary design. Some of the imbalance of a piston engine can be eliminated by using laterally opposed cylinders, but IIRC there is still some imbalance.

Thermal efficiency is best when you have a spherical combustion chamber which expands radially (maximum volume to surface area ration). But since that is not physically possible the next best seems to be a piston in a circular chamber. The triangle in a peanut as some call it has a larger surface area. Mazda was stupid and showed off a new rotary in 2007 (I have pics from the auto show) and that killed demand for the existing engine and car. Why would you buy it when they were planning a new one with better efficiency and more power?

Re:So what's the advantage? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684200)

That's fine for racing and UAVs etc. Street cars, not so much.

Re:So what's the advantage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683790)

You're in the US, you are already being robbed on car services. Guess what? In the rest of the world, new cars do not need servicing every 3000 miles, they're closer to 25,000 - for the same model!

$4 a gallon is still one of the cheapest fuel prices on the planet, by a huge margin. What are you going to do when you get a real increase, or taxes start being added to curb usage. All that oil in the US sand is not going to help. It's tiny and it ain't cheap to get out, let alone all the pollution issues being swept under the carpet, which will come out sooner or later. No self respecting legal firm is going to let those class actions go without a fight.

Re:So what's the advantage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683850)

That's not true, $4 a gallon is quite a bit more than what they pay in oil producing states.

This isn't particularly current, but it does illustrate the point. http://www.hybridsuv.com/news/world-gas-prices

Re:So what's the advantage? (2)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683864)

$4 a gallon is still one of the cheapest fuel prices on the planet, by a huge margin.

It's one of the cheapest in the developed world, yes. But places like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela subsidise petrol heavily, resulting in absurdly cheap fuel.

Re:So what's the advantage? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683876)

We'll just take your country's share of the oil you silly little defenseless cunts.

Re:So what's the advantage? (1)

Spectre (1685) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683904)

I'm guessing you meant 5,000 miles, or 7,500 miles, which is what most cars/trucks recommend for service intervals here in the US (all of my car/truck owner's manuals have 7,500mile service intervals) ... I've never seen one that recommended 3,000 miles, unless used in taxi service or police usage (with extended idling and frequent short trips).

The only recommendation I see for regular cars to be serviced on a 3,000 mile basis is by the people that, gasp, provide the service!

Re:So what's the advantage? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684236)

I've never seen one that recommended 3,000 miles, unless used in taxi service or police usage (with extended idling and frequent short trips).

Oil changes. Though that's changed with synthetic oils... I drive a 2011 model year car, and oil changes are every 10,000kms, or about every 6,000 miles. Actual service checks are every 30,000kms.

Which car manuals? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683918)

As far as I know, the only people who say that are the ones selling the maintenance.

Re:So what's the advantage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684072)

If by servicing you mean oil changes, i'd hardly call that not needed. Despite all of oil makers claims, syntechic oil does not last longer then regular oil much less 25k miles. There is also the issue of filter replacement even if the oil could last that long. 3months / 3000 miles is the accepted average of how good the oil stays so cars can last past their warranty period. Lubricated is an important part to protect against wear on moving parts, keeping the lubricant slippery and free of particles helps to protect against wear and tear.

Re:So what's the advantage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683870)

Higher power to weight ratio. A wankel with just a single rotor has effectively a power "stroke" for every revolution of the "crank".

The design of a wankel is pure brilliance, a lovely simple engine with a fundamentally ingenious design.

They have a fantastic "failure mode", the most likely piece to fail are the "apex seals" (which seal the 3 points of the rotor against the housing walls), when (and more modernly, if) an apex seal blows, you are still generating reasonable power, you can still get home. Apex seal technology has come a long way, the RX8 engine (Renesys) is very reliable, if treated right.

The P:W and failure modes make them particularly suited for aviation and converting Mazda wankels for experimental aircraft use is quite common.

Re:So what's the advantage? (2)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683946)

The big advantage is that it is lighter per BHP than the equivalent piston engine, and can be revved up higher. They have fewer moving parts, but a far more complex problem with sealing than regular piston engines do, and thus tend to be less efficient and burn more oil in the real world. Plus, modern piston engines are balanced so well that the RPM differences aren't what they used to be.

Re:So what's the advantage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683960)

Big advantage is that they can produce more horsepower with a lighter engine. Only really useful for small cars

From a engineering concept they are a very cool to watch in an online flash video

It's worse than that (4, Informative)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684060)

The advantages of the rotary engine are power (relative to weight) and simplicity. Even though the rotary engine has fewer moving parts than a piston engine, service life is LESS. In theory, IF there were many manufacturers competing and making interchangeable parts, rotary engines might become cheap enough to be disposable. But with Mazda as the only game in town, forget it.

As engines evolved, people discovered it was easier to reduce the weight of a piston engine than to build a long-life rotary engine. Of all the components that can fail in a car, the pistons, engine blocks, rings, rods, valves, fuel injectors, and camshafts are normally good for the life of the vehicle. With the possible exception of timing belts, the simplicity of the rotary engine does not translate to lower maintenance cost because the admittedly complicated piston engines are generally quite reliable.

   

Re:It's worse than that (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684212)

The main points of failure in a wankel are precisely that, POINTS, namely the apex seals. In the olden days, these failed with regularity. In modern times, not so, the materials and manufcturing has made the seals very resiliant. As long as the engine is looked after properly, fed good oil and regularly getting "wrung out", a wankel NEEDS to get into high rev areas, it NEEDS to be driven hard from time to time.

Even then, if those seals need replacing, it's really not that big of a job, they are SO simple, hugely more so than a 4-stroke piston engine. People hear "rebuild" and think in 4-stroke terms that this is a simply massive undertaking, forgetting the simplicity of a wankel.

18 miles per gallon, that's why! (1)

mattbee (17533) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683730)

Looking for a cheap coupé, I came close to buying the beautiful RX-8, but the fuel economy is just hopeless, and I read that it basically bleeds oil. If you see an RX-8 for a suspiciously cheap price and a seller with a big sad face, I figured that car is an auto-vampire, sucking its owner dry in petrol and maintenance costs before moving on to the next victim. Owners have a "300 club" where you try to make it clock over 300 miles on its 61 litre fuel tank without having to walk to the next petrol station. Planet-burning fun :)

Re:18 miles per gallon, that's why! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684206)

Owners have a "300 club" where you try to make it clock over 300 miles on its 61 litre fuel tank without having to walk to the next petrol station.

I'm going to have to throw a penalty on the play. Unnecessary combination of units in your comparison, five yards and a yellow card.

Words that need be put out of our misery (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683752)

Once the darling of the English language...

Thank you political wonks, your contributions to the language will be with us (unfortunately) for generations.

Rotary engines are awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683784)

The 787B Mazda rotary engined car is the only Japanese car to win Le Mans, and it did it on reliability, not speed. And if the rotary engine is not good for a sports car, then what is an RX-7?

Re:Rotary engines are awesome (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684194)

Per wikipedia, the 787B was allowed to run at 830 kg while the competition was at 1000 kg. As happy as I am that they won, it is kind of hard to call that a race.

Well, damn (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683792)

I'm convinced that the only real reason we have piston engines in most cars today is because pistons work really well in steam engines, and early on in the development of the internal combustion engine, most of the engineering was done by people familiar with steam engines using the designs they knew. If development had proceeded on the principle of "IC is different from EC, let's take advantage of that," rotary and other non-piston-based designs might now be a lot more common and a lot more advanced. It was nice to see Mazda keeping the torch lit, and it's sad to see that they can't do it any more.

It's kind of as if the computer engineering world had taken a look at the first integrated circuits (also "IC," by an interesting coincidence) and said, "we need to do this with vacuum tubes." No doubt we'd have all kinds of cool miniaturized vacuum tube technology we don't have today, but there's little doubt that computers would still be horribly bulky, slow, and expensive compared to what we actually got.

And yes, I just made a computer analogy for car engines. Deal with it. ;)

Re:Well, damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683820)

Lesson: engineering and optimization wins over innovative design.

Re:Well, damn (1)

pyrr (1170465) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684280)

Yeah, this is just about right.

Rotary engines are really interesting, but engineers generally have to have an avenue to pursue in order to increase efficiency. Just like chronically-filthy 2-stroke diesel engines (think older buses & trucks and locomotives), or chronically-filthy air-cooled gasoline engines, there's only so much you can do with some technologies, due to limitations of the design or exorbitant costs involved with constructing them in ways that would overcome the limitations.

Usually, if a design has good potential and novelty, someone will try to run with it. Mazda has been working on Wankels for 50 years. A number of other major manufacturers tried to do things with them as well, and none of them pulled-off a coup. Rotaries were what set Mazda apart for so long, and they have a cult following. So did the Porsches with air-cooled engines. Emissions and efficiency standards rendered those obsolete, too, because lighter weight and "awesomeness" just don't balance out the flaws.

Re:Well, damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684082)

If you ever lived with a rotary engine, or better yet, raced with a rotary you'll understand why no one else wanted to use this design. The piston engine has a lot more parts, but despite being so it is more reliable, burns less oil, and easier to fix. It is harder to find people that are willing to rebuild the rotaries, and the rx-8 and turboed rx-7 have constant engine problems - espically in racing situations. Rotaries also have much less fuel efficency - A rx-8 has about the same fuel efficency as a v8 corvette, with much less hp.

For all the head aches with the rotary there is a small increase in hp/weight ratio.

I was looking at racing an RX-8, but after looking at the reliability issues for now I will stick to my 4 cylinder nissan.

Rotary Miata (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683812)

Mazda needs to make a rotary Miata.

They've needed to do so for years, but they're too stupid/stubborn to do so. Their execs must be from the same business school that Commodore's were from.

Re:Rotary Miata (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683934)

What? no they don't. It's a good decision. Rotary Miata. Sheesh.

Re:Rotary Miata (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683970)

Yep, not listening to you customers is good decision.

Re:Rotary Miata (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684102)

Yep, not listening to you customers is good decision.

Ok. What customer wouldn't want a FREE ENERGY car that NEVER needs fuel, oil, or maintainence?

Fuck you for not giving your customers what they would want. You and your fancy book-learnin about thermodynamics and shit. Ivory tower elitist!

Re:Rotary Miata (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684282)

Yep, not listening to you customers is good decision.

You can't listen to every arm-chair engineering wacko. They don't even all agree!

Re:Rotary Miata (1)

ouija147 (467204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684174)

No sorry this is what they should do...

http://flyinmiata.com/V8/ [flyinmiata.com]

I have a 2002 LS6 and a '93 smurf ... a work in progress

Rotaries are quieter? (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683814)

Thank goodness! I can finally doff my ear plugs and ear muffs any time I'm around one. Good indeed to learn that they are quieter. That is certainly a relief. I guess those mufflers that took up a whole side pod on the GTP cars was completely unnecessary!

Re:Rotaries are quieter? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683912)

Yes, the are quieter.

Re:Rotaries are quieter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684032)

No, they aren't. Lacking valves means the still expanding exhaust gases enter the exhaust system, where as an exhaust valve mute this more. My friends RX-7 (non Turbo as a Turbo also acts to muffle the exhaust sound and why mufflers aren't needed on turboed cars) with a header and cat back exhaust system could be heard from very far away compared to my prelude with a very similar setup

Re:Rotaries are quieter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684184)

Seriously? Rotarys are quieter?!?!? Are you fucking mad?

I say that as a 20 year owner of various rotary vehicles and they are NOT quieter - in fact hey have signifigant silencing issues even with turbos as the exhaust ports allow more noise to begin wiht - every moving part in an engine between the piston and hte port acts as a noise suppression and guess what the rotary doesnt have? Anything between the rotor and the port. So the noise is very sharp and high pitched - they are brutally loud as a result.

Very powerful for the raw capacity and extremely smooth yes, quiet? Not a fucking chance!

Note I didnt say annoying. A ported rotary is a godawsome noise

Except when they backfire... (1)

Two99Point80 (542678) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683958)

My '73 RX3 would produce deafening backfires when the throttle was suddenly closed after being wide open. IIRC my '77 RX3SP didn't so much. The best gas mileage I got from either was something like 21.5 miles/US gal. But smooth and (for the era) powerful? You bet! Of course, an unmuffled racing engine was brutally loud: the Chimney Rock (NC) Hillclimb had a fellow named John Finger whose car might've been audible in Charlotte...

Re:Except when they backfire... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684156)

My '73 RX3 would produce deafening backfires when the throttle was suddenly closed after being wide open. IIRC my '77 RX3SP didn't so much. The best gas mileage I got from either was something like 21.5 miles/US gal. But smooth and (for the era) powerful? You bet!

Of course, an unmuffled racing engine was brutally loud: the Chimney Rock (NC) Hillclimb had a fellow named John Finger whose car might've been audible in Charlotte...

Afterfire. They would afterfire if you suddenly released the gas. Afterfire is when unburned fuel makes it into the exhaust tract and burns/expands there.

Backfire is when unburned fuel makes it (backs it's way up) into the intake and does the explody.

Only pointing this out for technical accuracy.

Pollution (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683836)

Historically rotary engines had huge pollution issues. Plenty of HC output, not just from leaky oil seals.
Rotaries have a market position problem ... turbine engines have much better power to weight ratios (although horrible idling losses).

Re:Pollution (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683952)

turbine engines have much better power to weight ratios (although horrible idling losses).

I think it is time for a turbine/electric hybrid.
I have been thinking about this for my next motorcycle project.

How would it fare driving a generator in a hybrid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683842)

It would seem to be perfect for this (I think it needs to rev higher that a similar output piston engine?)

Re:How would it fare driving a generator in a hybr (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684216)

Yes, a rotary needs to spin faster for the same power output. In fact, that's why they have a better power/weight ratio. The perfect balance allows higher speed, so a smaller engine can produce the same power. Electric machines also tend toward better efficiency at higher speeds so it may seem like a good match. However, the rotary is probably so inefficient that it outweighs the savings. Now if it turns out that the PEAK efficiency can be made higher than the peak for a piston engine, then it will get its place in hybrids (since they try to operate at the peak efficiency or not at all). But that seems unlikely.

Fond memories (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683852)

Of my first car, a 1972 Mazda Rx2. Last seen in a wrecking yard in Orange, NSW with a crushed roof and twisted frame. A great car, but 17mpg on a good day was a shock.

Outdated news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683888)

Sure, they're dropping the RX-8, but they've made promises that a rotary is in their future.
(ref 3rd gear [jalopnik.com] )

Not last? (1)

Palshife (60519) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683890)

'Although R-X production is ending, the rotary engine will always represent the spirits of Mazda, and Mazda remains committed to its ongoing development,' says Mazda Chief Executive and President Takashi Yamanouchi

Sensationalist headline!

Thing that amke you go.. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683894)

...HHHmmmmmm..

Re:Thing that amke you go.. (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684242)

Things that make you go "Zoom Zoom Zoom."

Side Note: re: AMC Pacer (1)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683920)

GM was supposed to make a rotary a.k.a. Wankel Engine. AMC was going to source it. They decided to design a car with a futuristic almost UFO-ish look. This was the Pacer.

GM never made the engine, never sold it to AMC. The Pacer still was sold, making Wayne's World just a bit funnier.

Re:Side Note: re: AMC Pacer (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684114)

GM did make a rotory in the 70's as the engine for a concept corvette. Of course in the usual fashion, GM tried to make it too large (not as in more rotors, but as in physically too large) and ran into issues. The project ended up being scrapped (but they still made a rotory)

Re:Side Note: re: AMC Pacer (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684266)

Why would GM sell it to AMC? AMC was a Chrysler product.

Simple concept but still a complex execution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683974)

Even if the rotary engine needs fewer moving parts and could therefore provide a plus for reliability, there are still plenty of other moving parts required to be useful in a vehicle: transmission, drivetrain etc., all of which provide plenty of scope for failure. Considering how complex the average car has become with regard to electronics, it would be strange then to try and push supposedly simpler mechanics purely on aesthetic merit. If it doesn't even provide comparatively decent fuel economy, then I guess the coffin is nailed shut.

It might never come to commercial fruition, but I'm sure most red-blooded males could get excited over a turbine powered car. Or maybe I've just seen too many Batman re-runs...

Sorry, but Mazda does have flashy green.... (3, Informative)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683980)

technology coming down the pike. [mazda.com] the new diesels look especially intriguing. And it appears the rotary isn't dead, it's just restin'. [thetruthaboutcars.com]

Mazda Stops Production of the Rotary Engine and (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683982)

my ears thank them.

Fuel efficiency (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683998)

Reality check, the upcoming CX5 will be far and away the most fuel efficient AWD vehicle available in North America when it's introduced later this year. In 2013 (2014 model year) if they bring the Skyactiv diesel to the US like they've announced then you will be able to get an ~42mpg AWD crossover. They are doing this without the very expensive and environmentally dubious hybrid or electric drivetrains, just good old fashioned engineering.

Re:Fuel efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684224)

Subaru is working just as hard as Mazda on getting to the magic 40 MPG, so even if the CX5 gets better mileage, it won't be "far and away" better.

Only alternative to piston engines (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684092)

I can't believe we haven't come up with a better system than the piston engine invented 100's of years ago. When I first learned of the rotary engine long ago, I hoped it would be better, but I guess not.

Propietary engine... I'm happy it's gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684104)

I'm not happy it's dead, but happy it's gone. All this years has made damage to the world of combustion engines.
  A jail made cool, engine.

  Seriously, why optimize a propietary engine when you can do so on a free V{8,6},4L one?.
That's the principal reason why we don't have a green rotary engine today.

Not a car person, need help understanding... (2)

Golgafrinchan (777313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684116)

Could someone provide a car analogy to explain?

Re:Not a car person, need help understanding... (1)

oic0 (1864384) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684208)

Rotary engines have a triangle that wobbles instead of a piston that goes up and down. They deal with higher RPMs better and are generally able to make more horsepower for a given engine size and weight. The downside is they make poor compression. The solution for that is turbo charging. The poor mileage is directly related to the poor compression. With more work they probably could have surpassed piston engines for most purposes, but you can only sell people what they are willing to buy. With an investment as large as a vehicle, people like to play it safe so the rotary never caught on with the masses and never got a chance to develop.

I feel like I should post... (1)

13bPower (869223) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684118)

Still have my 91 T2, and would love to get an rx8 r3. Someday...

The geometry is limiting (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684142)

Someone posted

Too bad they never had the resources to work on the efficiency like everyone did with piston engines.

The basic Wankel isn't a bad engine. But you can't vary the basic design much. The trochoid determines the shape of the combustion chamber. All the games that have been played with combustion chamber layout, from the hemi head to four valve engines, don't really apply. Valve timing, too, is determined by the geometry. All those have been tweaked to improve fuel economy and emissions. With a Wankel, there's not much to tweak.

Wankel engines.... (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684158)

have much in common with two stroke piston engines. Oil consumption is high because there can only be one set of seals on the rotary "piston" compared to two (or more) sets of rings on a piston engine. This also results in some fuel being lost in the exhaust just like in a two stroke. The seals are not as good and wear out more quickly reducing compression and loosing power. The engine runs hotter and as a result can produce more 'smog' gases (however the extra heat helps the catalytic converter scrub the exhaust). The engine's high power to weight ratio and quick rev-up make it a good racing engine so I doubt it will disappear, but it really isn't suitable anymore for street cars.

Champagne/Burgandy 1987 RX7 Turbo Chick Magnet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37684186)

I drove one of these for several years until I got married. It had good looks, awesome power and was a chick magnet.
Now I drive a 15 year old minivan. My how priorities change.

Patent problems (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#37684238)

For all of the sturm and drang on Slashdot regarding patents and how they impede progress, how could they have gone unmentioned in a discussion of the rotary engine?

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