Don't Get Too Excited About Mazda's New Rotary Plans

Don't Get Too Excited About Mazda's New Rotary Plans

Mazda Motor Corp.is moving closer to resurrecting its trademark rotary engine - and it could debut in the United States as soon as 2019. Mazda plans on having an electric vehicle sometime around 2019 with a pure electric model in the Asian and European markets while North America will get the rotary range extender. Speaking to Automotive News, Mitsuo Hitomi, global powertrain boss in Mazda, has confirmed that, most likely, the new Wankel engine will generate electricity for a production battery-powered vehicle. In fact, rotary engines are known for just how compact and quiet they are, and that means they're ideal for use as a range extender. The former is seen as a flawless option for Europe, China, and Japan, where the relatively short range of current EVs will be enough for most of the customers.

The automaker told AN that a new rotary engine would likely function as a range extender for an electric vehicle, powering up only when the batteries needed more juice for a longer overall range. It will ride on a new vehicle architecture that has been designed with a floor pan to accommodate batteries for an EV or hybrid drivetrain.

"Whether the business conditions will be met or not... not the big technical issues".

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Earlier today, Mazda announced the Wankel engine will be returning to its road cars, but not as you might expect.

The rotary engine had been a Mazda bragging point since the company became the first to market the technology in 1967 in its Cosmo Sport/Mazda S110. The problem however, is that Mazda is still debating whether it can make a business case for another sports auto in its range with the MX-5 Miata now existing. That vehicle's name: RE Range Extender, short for Rotary Engine Range Extender. On its re-appearance on December 6, its revamped road test - new star ratings and all - featured Mazda's rotary-powered RX3 Coupé.

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