Mazda’s rotary engine is making a comeback, but it’s not what you think. Far from it. As part of its ”Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030” long-term development program to launch the manufacturer’s first electric vehicles (EV) in 2020, the rotary engine will play a role as a range extender. Yes, I know, the collective sigh of RX enthusiasts around the world will be heard for quite some time.
By 2020, Mazda plans to launch two battery EVs, one powered completely by battery, and the other a combination of a battery plus a lightweight and quiet rotary engine as a range extender or recharger. The rotary engine will only operate when needed, extending the range of the battery-powered EV, alleviating the issue of driving range that has plagued EVs since their inception.
While details are pretty scarce at the moment, Mazda says that the advantage of a rotary engine’s small size and high power output create an opportunity for a shared layout. Also, the rotary engine’s compatibility with gaseous fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas will allow their future EV to operate on other fuel sources in emergencies.
Mazda expects that internal engines will be paired with a type of electrification and will account for 95% of their lineup by the year 2030, with battery only electric vehicles accounting for the remaining 5%. Mazda has gone a long way in maximizing their combustion engines, as exemplified by the new-generation SKYACTIV-X gasoline mill. The company is also dedicated to reducing CO2 emissions to 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050. Naturally, all these solutions are determined by the market and the infrastructure of the desired market that Mazda wants to push for.
So, does that mean that the dream of a new RX model with a rotary engine is even farther away? For now, yes. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a hybrid of some sorts. At this point, maybe that’s the best we can hope for.