Mazda brings back the rotary engine... as an EV range extender
Hey, it's better than nothing. And there are good reasons for doing it.
Andrew KrokReviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
stopped using the rotary engine to power its sports cars, fans of esoteric
the world over emitted a collective sigh. Well, now they can emit a collective gasp of excitement because the rotary is back, baby! Sort of.
Martijn ten Brink, Mazda's VP of sales and customer service in Europe, confirmed to ZerAuto.nl that it will revive its rotary engine in 2019. It will be part of the automaker's first battery-electric vehicle, which will debut that same year.
But wait... a gas engine in an electric car? How's that going to work? Well, fans of the rotary might be saddened to hear that it won't be used to provide any direct motive force. Rather, the rotary will come back as a gas-powered range extender for the aforementioned electric car. Brink promised that the engine would be nice and low in the vehicle, because it's only about the size of a shoebox, and it should barely be noticeable.
Not the ideal reintroduction of the rotary engine, but I'll take it. The Wankel rotary engine is a strange thing, using a single rotating element inside a chamber to create all four stages of combustion -- intake, compression, power and exhaust. Rotary engines are known for low vibration, decent fuel economy and a small physical footprint, three things that will be necessary for a range extender that mostly lives in the background.