Mazda has announced that it will reintroduce its famous rotary engine as part of its vision of a low-emissions future.
The lightweight unit will be used in the company’s first range-extender EV, acting as a generator for the car’s battery, which will power the motor.
The range-extender will be one of two battery EVs launched by the Japanesse car maker in 2020 as part of its ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030’ programme.
The other vehicle will be purely battery-powered while the rotary hybrid will use the combustion engine to recharge the battery when necessary to increase the vehicle’s driving range.
According to Mazda, the rotary engine’s small size and high power output make multiple electrification solutions possible via a shared packaging layout.
Taking advantage of the rotary engine’s compatibility with gaseous fuels, the rotary-powered range extender is also designed to burn liquefied petroleum gas and provide a source of electricity in emergencies.
Rather than commit fully to pure EVs, Mazda says it is committed to the “right solution at the right time”, including researching alternative fuels including compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen and recyclable liquid fuels such as biofuels developed from microalgae growth.
Mazda says it envisions most of its cars (95 per cent) still using internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2030, but with some form of electrification. Pure EVs will make up the other five per cent.
Mazda has used versions of the Wankel rotary engine since the 1960s in models including the Cosmo, RX-2 and RX-7. It was last fitted to a production car earlier this century when a turbocharged version was fitted to the RX-8 sports car, which went out of production in 2012.