According to a report by Australia’s GoAuto, which have been very reliable in its previous scoops, Mazda is expected to introduce a range-extender petrol-electric hybrid concept that features a rotary engine.
At the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, the publication asked Mazda’s global sales and marketing managing executive officer Masahiro Moro on Mazda’s plans for another RX sports model, to which Moro-san replied “You came up with a dangerous question” – before adding with a big smile: “Stay tuned.”
When the journalist persisted, Moro-san asked, “Are you coming to the Tokyo motor show?”, hinting that the company will be making a major announcement on the topic there.
Mazda last produced a rotary engine-powered car in 2012, when the RX-8 was discontinued.
The characteristics of a rotary engine meant that it would be very difficult to engineer it to meet today’s stringent exhaust emissions and fuel consumption regulations in Europe, USA and Japan. While it was compact and light, exhaust emissions and fuel consumption is very high.
However, there are some advantages in using a lightweight rotary engine to power a range-extended electric vehicle.
Rather than using the petrol rotary engine to drive the wheels, the rotary engine can be set to run at a constant, optimal rpm where it produces the least emissions, and used as a generator to charge the electric vehicle’s traction battery.
The compact design of a rotary engine meant that it will take up less space than a conventional piston engine of the same output.
Such rotary-type range extender engine are not new. In 2013, Mazda produced a demonstrator prototype using the previous generation Mazda 2.
In 2010, Audi showed an A1 e-tron electric car with a rotary-type range extender engine developed by AVL.
The big question is whether the soon-to-be unveiled concept by Mazda points to a successor to the RX-8 or not? Albeit with a more eco-friendly twist ala-BMW i8.