Mazda and Toyota are going to be working a little more closely with each other. In their announcement, the two car companies said they'd be building an American assembly plant together, and working on electric vehicle technology. But one of the companies' goals got our mental gears turning: It's listed as "Expand complementary products," and it's left very open-ended.
The companies say they will further explore the possibilities of other complementary products on a global level. These are in addition to Mazda providing the Mazda2 to Toyota as the Yaris iA, and Toyota providing Mazda a commercial van to sell in Japan. So what could these future complementary products be? What's the one thing Mazda fan has been wanting for years? A rotary sports car, of course! And while Mazda has repeatedly said that it has a small band of engineers plugging away at the spinning triangle problem, the odds of Mazda putting it into production have been slim. The inherent thirst of the rotary would make it tough to introduce when fuel economy regulations have been tightening. Plus, Mazda is a small company that needs to stretch every dollar, and having a one-off engine not based on anything else would be expensive.
How could Mazda get around these obstacles? This is where the partnership with Toyota comes in, in our long-shot fantasy. Aside from having deep pockets, Toyota has a wealth of knowledge in the realm of hybrids. Thus, why not a rotary hybrid? Electrifying their oddball motor would fix two issues. One is obviously the fuel economy, since the gas engine wouldn't have to run all the time. The other is in providing torque. Rotaries infamously have little torque, especially down low, so adding an electric motor would allow this hypothetical rotary sports car to have a grunty low end, while still providing the Everest-high redline rotary fans like. The idea would be sweetened with the solid-state batteries that Toyota is developing, which could provide lots of electricity without weighing a ton.