Industry > Green

Mazda is indeed resurrecting the rotary engine…as an EV range extender

To complement an upcoming electrified car’s motor in 2020

Will purists howl in protest over Mazda’s decision to relegate the rotary mill to a supporting role? PHOTO FROM MAZDA

Japanese carmaker Mazda has always been a staunch believer in the Wankel (or rotary) engine. In fact, the Hiroshima-based company was one of the leaders in the powerplant’s development in the 1960s. Mazda’s fondness for the rotary engine is understandable as this type of automotive propulsion is lightweight, powerful and simple in design. That is why it was considered the end of an era when Mazda ceased production of the rotary-powered RX-8 sports car in 2012. Now, six years later, Mazda is about to bring back the iconic engine in its upcoming cars, albeit in a different capacity.

In a new press statement, Mazda reiterates its commitment to lessen the carbon-dioxide emissions of its vehicles. Part of the plan is to come up with the brand’s first electric vehicles by the year 2020, and electrify the product lineup by 2030 (95% of which are going to be hybrids). In the statement, Mazda discusses its rather unique game plan to achieve this goal: It wants to use the rotary engine again. But this time, it won’t be the main driving force. Instead, it will serve as a range extender for a planned Mazda EV.

Mazda wants to use the rotary engine again, but this time, it won’t be the main driving force. Instead, it will serve as a range extender for a planned EV

Most car manufacturers use in-line engines—usually larger and heavier—in their hybrid vehicles. Mazda is convinced that the rotary engine’s ability to produce huge amounts of power in a light and small package makes it the perfect choice for a range extender in its future EVs. The Wankels will be designed to burn liquefied petroleum gas, making the company’s soon-to-arrive hybrids more efficient and environment-friendly compared with those by other brands.

While Mazda shifts its focus on electrification and environment protection, fans need not worry as the firm assures its customers that it will continue fulfilling its commitment to building dynamic cars. In short, Mazdas of the future will be exciting to drive without being harmful to the planet. Nice to know that the rotary engine will play a vital role in all of this.

Red Santiago

A jack of all trades, Red is passionate about cars, motorcycles and audio. He sometimes drives for a ride-hailing app company—just because he really loves driving.