File this one under "completely out of left field." GM engineers are looking for any possible way to cut costs from their Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, and anything is currently on the table. Among the possibilities being investigated is a rotary engine, a powerplant long abandoned by nearly every automaker except Mazda, who still produces the rotary-powered RX8 sports car.
GM once experimented with a rotary Corvette, but the idea was quickly scrapped. The rotary has a few drawbacks, namely oil and gasoline consumption, but there are also positives; the engine is unbelievably smooth, loves to rev and incredibly compact. The RX8's rotary is a little larger than a basketball, and the Volt's rotary would likely be smaller, giving the car a nice reduction in weight.
Also being investigated are a diesel engine, or a small two-cylinder gas engine. GM is also hoping to cut the cost of the battery pack from $10,000 to $5,000, in order to help the car be economically viable.
More: Report: GM Investigating Rotary Engine For Next Chevrolet Volt