Mazda and Audi – A Match Made in Heaven?

There have been rumors abound lately about a possible revival of the RX-7 and other rumors about the possible end of the rotary engine altogether, but the latest word on the street is about a possible collaboration between Mazda and Audi that just may be the savior for the rotary engine.

With the RX-8 soon to be discontinued and mixed signals from Mazda on a possible RX-9 modeled after the RX-7, the fate of the rotary engine is in the minds of many Mazda enthusiasts. The Wankel has been a signature in the Mazda lineup since 1964 when it was first showcased in the Cosmo R100 coupe.

Now there’s talk of Audi teaming up with Mazda for the next chapter of the rotary engine car by developing a rotary for the Audi A1 e-tron, Lexus’s attempt at the nearly all-electric compact with a range extender that currently uses a single-piston rotary engine to charge the batteries as the car is running.

Inside Line recently reported that sources inside Mazda say engineers are already developing new technology for the Wankel by potentially removing the conventional spark plugs and replacing them with a laser ignition. By doing this, the engine will be much more efficient and will produce less hydrocarbon emissions than the older version. The car will produce only 130g/km or carbon dioxide rather than the 299g/kg that is currently produced by the RX-8. Reports on this development are also followed by reports that a launch of the new rotary has not been green-lighted and the Mazda is seeking additional funding.

So Audi provides the influx of cash and Mazda provides the technology to put a Wankel range-extender underneath the trunk floor of the A1 e-tron. It sounds like a win-win on the surface, but talk is cheap and a Mazda-Audi partnership seems like an odd couple in the making.