Mazda rotary engine back on MX-30

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After years of speculation that Mazda will one day bring back rotary engine performance, the company is finally ready to confirm that our collective hope has not been in vain. However, there won’t be a rear-drive RX model revving its triangular Wankel beyond 8,000 rpm because pistonless rotary motors are hard to seal. Although they produce a lot of power for their size, they aren’t well optimized for everyday driving and tend to offer the kind of fuel economy and emissions that trouble regulators’ pants.

Given the circumstances, Mazda’s rotary will return as a range extender for the MX-30 PHEV.

According to Automotive News, the manufacturer has confirmed that the rotary-assist crossover will make its way to North America next year. This fits well with months of rumors and makes sense given the rather severe range limits of the all-electric model. The Mazda MX-30 EV’s 35.5-kilowatt-hour battery is limited to just 100 miles of EPA-estimated range. However, we’ve seen tests showing that the figure can only be achieved in the most idyllic of conditions, which limits its appeal.

Adding a range extender allows Mazda to use the MX-30 plug-in in non-California areas of the US and avoids having to add a much larger battery (and heavier). It’s essentially the company’s only option if it’s serious about North American sales volume and barely front-page news given that Mazda had been discussing its development for years.

Since Automotive News:

Talk of rolling out an updated rotary in the MX-30 has swirled since the vehicle’s debut at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show. Mazda Motor Corp. tried to use it in a range extender that would have gone on sale in the first half of the fiscal year that began April 1.

But Mazda opted for a plug-in variant. This allows it to further reduce battery size and cost, compared to a range extender. But the motor would run more frequently.

The rotary plug-in version of the MX-30 will debut in the second half of the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. It will be introduced in the United States and Japan in order, a carrier said. word.

After ditching rotary engines in 2012 with the death of the RX-8, Mazda revived the technology the following year in the form of a prototype 0.33-liter range extender fitted to a Mazda2 that had been converted to a an all-electric powertrain. If you’re wondering why any company would go this route to increase efficiency when Wankel rotary engines are notorious for being so thirsty and dirty, you’re not alone. However, Mazda had previously suggested that using a generator as a generator would allow it to run at its most optimal speed by avoiding low revs. Rotarys also don’t tend to produce much vibration, potentially making Mazda’s range extender less noticeable than generators using a traditional piston arrangement.

They also offer excellent power for their size. By talking to suppliers, Nikkei Asia said the unit could effectively double the range of the electrified MX-30. But that remains to be seen, and we’ve seen other generator-supported EVs fail.

“This is the move most similar to Mazda in their electrification strategies, and the market is looking at how it will contribute to sales volume,” said analyst Eiji Hakomori of Daiwa Securities.

Even if it ends up being a flop for Mazda, it’s nice to see them try something unique while finding a way to keep the rotary engine relevant. We should have an idea of ​​pricing later this year. However, if history is any indication, electric vehicles equipped with a range extender typically sell for a few thousand dollars more than their non-hybrid equivalent.

[Images: Mazda]

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