Rotary engine in the Mazda RX-8. (Image: Mazda)
The rotary engine has been around since the early 20th century. But it didn’t come to autos until the second half of the century. The “Wankel” engine was licensed by a long list of OEMs but its deployment is best known in Mazdas, the company that put the rotary engine under the hoods of a variety of vehicles, the last of which was the RX-8. Production ceased in 2012.
Although the rotary engine is compact and simple—as in no pistons, camshafts, etc.—with a quasi-triangular shape (the lines between the points of the triangle are arcs, not straight lines) moving in an eccentric orbit within a combustion chamber.
Reasons why Mazda stopped producing the engines include not-stellar fuel efficiency and emissions issues, both largely predicated on compression problems, which lead to incomplete combustion such that there was unburned fuel after the spark.
Former Mazda technician and inventor Ernie Brink thinks that he has come up with design modifications that address these drawbacks of the rotary engine and he talks about it on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with Autoline’s John McElroy, Todd Lassa of Automobile Magazine and me.
What’s more, Brink provides demonstrations of the way the Wankel works—even using an air compressor to rotate the rotor.
Hyundai Pursues Mobility
After the deep-dive into the rotary engine John, Todd and I discuss a variety of subjects, including the 2020 Hyundai Sonata as well as Hyundai’s just-announced $52-billion investment in R&D that is to transform the company into what it calls a “Smart Mobility Solution Provider” by 2021.
For automotive movie enthusiasts, John and Todd provide their reviews of Ford v Ferrari and I note the proliferation of McLarens in Hobbs and Shaw.
2019’s Likely Big Finish
We also discuss how Toyota’s Bob Carter thinks the year will finish with sales of about 17 million and how (1) Camry will remain the top-selling car in the industry and (2) RAV4 will be the best-selling vehicle that’s not a pickup truck—with sales on the order of 425,000.
And there’s more, all of which you can see right here.
While at the Tokyo Motor Show this week various vehicle manufacturers were showing off all manner of cars and crossovers and transportation devices that typically had to do with something autonomous, connected and/or electrified (ACE, as CAR’s Brett Smith categorizes this burgeoning field), the guys from Chevy were in El Segundo, California, showing off a different take on what can best be described as “toys for boys”—boys who do or don’t have driver’s licenses.
Elio Motors is something of a brash company.
Continental, an automotive supplier that has a deep engineering bench, is making a huge organizational change, one that Dr. Elmar Degenhart, chairman of the executive board, explains is necessary because, as he puts it, “The industry is changing at a high pace, so we have to change, too.”