Mazda is bringing back the rotary engine for a plug-in hybrid SUV
The MX-30 is Mazda’s first all-electric car, but it’ll soon gain an internal combustion engine offering in the form of a rotary-powered range extender it describes as a “plug-in hybrid powertrain”.
Mazda is synonymous with rotary power, having debuted it on the Cosmo Sport in 1967 – although its last car that came with the technology was the RX-8 in 2012. The engine was conceived by German engineer Felix Wankel in the early 1950s and while it offered compact dimensions and comparatively high power outputs, poor fuel efficiency stopped the concept from going mainstream.
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With its return in the MX-30, efficiency will be a crucial factor and Mazda says the rotary has been “reborn for the electric age”. The range extender rotary engine in the MX-30 will generate power for the car’s electric motor, rather than drive the wheels directly. The new set-up should manage to fill up more of the current MX-30’s rather spacious ‘engine’ bay.
Mazda says the plug-in hybrid MX-30 will go on sale in Europe from spring this year. The announcement was coupled with a new badge for the MX-30, featuring the traditional triangular rotary (or a ‘Reuleaux triangle’) with an ‘e’ embedded inside – alluding to electric power. The vehicle should have a significantly better range than the all-electric MX-30’s 124 miles.
This isn’t the first time Mazda has looked to the rotary to assist electric powertrains – we drove a Mazda 2 prototype with a rotary engine back in 2013. Mazda has continued to tease us with an RX-7 replacement too, showing the technology is firmly still in the mind of the Japanese firm.
Now read our full review of the all-electric Mazda MX-30…
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