We first heard about this thing almost two years ago now: a new rotary engine from Mazda. But not apparently for the RX-9, if and when that ever happens. No, this new rotary will likely act as a range-extender in the upcoming MX-30, according to Automotive News.
Auto News’ is running off of a line in a Mazda press release that hints that the rotary will be coming back, and specifically to the MX-30.
The key bit, per Auto News:
In a media release highlighting Mazda’s history of rotary-engine development, the carmaker noted a small Wankel engine was used as a range extender in a prototype Mazda 2 EV.
“A similar system could find its way onto the Mazda MX-30, a brand-new battery-electric crossover SUV arriving at dealerships this year,” Mazda said.
The all-electric MX-30 for Europe and Japan uses a relatively small 35.5-kWh lithium ion battery and 105-kW electric motor, indicating a rather modest range. But a hybrid version that taps an internal-combustion engine as a range extender could broaden appeal in other markets where drivers log longer distances, such as the U.S., by giving the vehicle a wider area of operation.
The release in question is from a couple weeks ago, when plenty of outlets picked up on it, though we didn’t. (What can I say it’s been hectic.) The fact that Auto News is now running with it suggests to me that they may know a little more than they’re putting on.
But, anyway, a small rotary under the hood is a fun hat tip to Mazda’s past, though that is really all it is. This might even be the best application for rotary engines at the moment, given that they are hard to make efficient, and likely expensive to develop, and, as Mazda’s P.R. people tell me every time I ask them why Mazda isn’t doing one thing or another, Mazda is a small company compared to its rivals and can’t do everything.
A rotary as a range-extender in an electrified crossover also neatly sums up the state of cars in this day and age, whether it’s enough to actually appeal to buyers here is an open question.