Mazda plans to bring back their famous rotary engines, but this time as an electric-car range extender.
Mazda has always had a bit of a love affair with the rotary engine (also known as the Wankel engine after the guy who invented it). It’s a style of engine one normally sees in aerospace rather than automotive industries.
First with the RX-7, then the RX-8, Mazda made their spinny-combustion engines do some pretty amazing things, not the least of which was achieved a fantastic weight distribution due to the long and thin engine.
Now Mazda plans to bring back their rotary engine tech, but with a grand new purpose.
In an interview with Dutch auto mag ZERauto.nl, Mazda Europe’s VP of sales and customer service Martijn ten Brink says Mazda plans on producing their very own electric vehicles based on the Mazda3, Mazda2, and CX-3 platforms, and that the rotary engine will play the role of generator to give their battery a little extra range.
With some help from Google in the translation, we get some words straight from Martijn’s mouth:
"The rotary engine (range extender) has no turbo and is a single rotor engine. It functions purely as a generator. It is placed flat and is as big as a shoebox. With some peripheral issues such as cooling, maybe the size of two shoe boxes, but still very compact. The Wankel motor is vibration-free. The buyer will therefore not notice anything if the range extender starts when the battery pack runs out."Brink admits this means the car is no longer a true EV but rather a pseudo-hybrid car, but also points out that it’s purely to alleviate the concerns of people who think that having a 300 km range is something to be worried about. As he points out, most people don’t travel more than 60 km (less than 40 miles) at a time anyway.
He also then launches into the whole “even electric-cars aren’t completely free of emissions”, pointing out that manufacturing these cars produces greenhouse gases. But we can ignore that since the opposite argument, that regular gas cars produce way more greenhouse gases when you include their own manufacturing, is also true.
No idea when we might see an electric Mazda3 with a tiny rotary engine, but we hope it’s sooner rather than later.