Robert Davis, senior vice president of Mazda U.S. operations, met with Car and Driver recently to discuss the Japanese automaker’s future research and development plans for its trademark rotary engines. He also talked about the phasing-out of V6 engines, among other topics.
Synonymous with rotary engines
Davis made it clear that the rotary engine is still integral to the company’s dynamic and will continue to take a front-seat in its research and development. Mazda is seeking innovative ways to use the rotary technology to increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Two engines in development
Davis said the automaker is working on two new rotary engines; one to drive the car and one to move the electric generator, like the kind used in electric vehicles. The lightness and the smooth operation of a rotary engine would be advantageous in an EV.
Besides the rotary engine, Mazda has been hitching its future to a series of technological developments it calls Skyactiv. The purpose of Skyactiv is to reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency. The technology includes a lighter body weight, forced-induction gasoline engines and an automated transmission that combines a torque converter with a dual-clutch.
The automaker, according to Davis, is not considering a V-6 under its new Skyactiv lineup. Currently, the V6 is standard for the CX-9 crossover and optional for the Mazda 6 sedan. Both models will all be running via a lighter-weight, forced-induction four-cylinder engine in future incarnations, as will the anticipated Mazda 6 hybrid.
US to say goodbye to CX-7
It has been previously announced that Mazda will discontinue the sales of its CX-7 crossover in the United States. Davis said the more fuel efficient 2012 CX-5 crossover, which was the first to be made under the Skyactiv scheme, was being considered as a permanent replacement for the CX-7. However, production contracts with certain territories made that impossible for the time being. The CX-7 will continue to be sold in Mexico and other markets.
What about Miata?
When asked the plans for the next-generation Miata, Davis kept the details close to his vest, saying only that it will be produced using the principles of Skyactiv to make the car lighter weight.
Two exciting Miata concepts were unveiled in Las Vegas in November: the Miata Spyder and the Super 20. When asked if car lovers can look forward to more, Davis dangled a carrot:
“Pay attention. There are some special editions coming.”