The rumors surface from time to time, but Mazda’s future plans are fairly quiet and unassuming. Still, for those who loved the late Mazda RX8, they may be excited to hear about a possible Mazda RX9 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle equipped with a rotary engine.
Because of increasingly-strict Corporate Average Fuel Economy [CAFE] standards implemented in the United States, requiring automakers to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, Mazda was forced to drop the rotary engine from the lineup. The rotary engine is an excellent engine, known for high-revving performance, which thrilled RX7 enthusiasts. On the other hand, it isn’t very well-known for fuel economy and low emissions, which led Mazda to discontinue the Mazda RX line. Mazda engineers are working on a low-emissions rotary engine, but it may be some years before that becomes an Mazda RX9.
Mazda has had some greener ideas, such as the Mazda2, one of the most fuel-efficient compact cars in America, and a couple of other concepts. One concept uses capacitors in a unique engine start-stop system or simply as a regenerative braking system to recover energy for accessories and reduce engine load at idle. I think my favorite concept, the Mazda RX8 HRE, uses the same old Wankel rotary engine that enthusiasts know and love, but replaces the fuel with hydrogen gas. In an internal combustion engine [ICE], hydrogen is as combustible as gasoline, yet releases zero carbon dioxide, only water vapor [2H2O+O2→2H2O].
Mazda’s best option could be to combine all of these dabblings into a new Mazda RX9 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Electric motors will give Mazda RX enthusiasts the performance they’re looking for, while being fed by capacitors or supercapacitors that charge and discharge rapidly, another performance-enhancing feature. Finally, once the charge runs down on whichever storage medium Mazda chooses, a specially-tuned Wankel range-extender can run on hydrogen for clean backup power.
Is there a Mazda RX9 in the works? Could it have a plug-in hybrid electric drivetrain with hydrogen ICE backup power? What would it look like? Mazda, please do something about all these questions!
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