‘No change in plan’ for Mazda’s rotary-powered range extender


The MX-30 will (eventually) get a rotary-powered range extender.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The MX-30 will (eventually) get a rotary-powered range extender.

Mazda has just released its first fully electric vehicle in New Zealand, the MX-30 small SUV. It’s a fine piece of kit but when Mazda detailed its battery and range figures, it might have looked a tad under par with a 35.5kWh battery offering around 220km of range.

According to the company, this is to “provide the optimum balance between a driving range which gives customers peace of mind and CO2 emissions from an LCA (Life-Cycle-Assessment) perspective”, which basically means the company includes the CO2 emitted by battery production into its calculations, and the bigger the battery, the more CO2.

To remedy the range situation, Mazda has been quietly working on a tiny rotary engine that will act as a petrol-powered range extender. Last year, an official Mazda video revealed the rotary range extender will debut in the first half of 2022. However, Mazda spokesperson Masahiro Sakata recently told Automotive News that “the timing of its introduction is undecided.”

SUPPLIED FOOTAGE

Watch: take a closer look at Mazda’s first-ever pure-electric vehicle, the MX-30.

Apparently, according to other Japanese publications, the decision to push back the rotary range extender came partly because the tech would require a bigger battery, making the SUV too expensive.

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But all is not lost for those desperate to see the return of the rotary. Mazda New Zealand told Stuff that there is “no change in the plan” when it comes to introducing rotary-powered range extenders.

The rotary engine used to power some of Mazda’s greatest sports cars, but reining in its emissions has proved to be harder than expected.

Supplied/Stuff

The rotary engine used to power some of Mazda’s greatest sports cars, but reining in its emissions has proved to be harder than expected.

There are to be three deployment patterns for Mazda’s range extender technologies – plug-in hybrid, series hybrid and fully electric.

“In all three deployment patterns, the RE (range-extender) is used as a generator and not directly for driving force. The only difference between the three patterns is how they combine battery capacity, generator and fuel tank size.

“This base structure has consistently been part of our plan from the beginning, and there have been no changes made to the plan.”

However, Mazda’s definition for each term (PHEV, HEV and electric) has changed since it first discussed the rotary range extender in 2018. “Range extender” now refers only to actual range extenders, while PHEV and series HEV (which used to be included in the old definition of range extender) now stand separate from the term.



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