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Mazda range-extender ‘great news’ for rotary fans
Rotary range-extender set for coming Mazda EV/hybrid in development now
6 Dec 2017
By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in Los Angeles
MAZDA’S long-awaited return of the rotary engine received a small but important boost from senior management, with Mazda North American Operations president and CEO Masahiro Moro revealing that the range-extender rotary engine is a step towards a full-blown rotary engine application in the not-too-distant future.
“We have all around the world but especially here in the United States a huge number of fans for the rotary engine,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the Mazda6 facelift at last week’s Los Angeles motor show. “And they are encouraging us not to give up on the rotary engine, as very strong supporters.
“Of course, that is very important, because if there are no fans, then there is no business (case for the rotary engine). Those fans look to the rotary engine primarily as a power unit of course.
“But the range extender rotary engine will be good news for these fans because it means that Mazda is keeping up on developing the rotary engine (as a power unit too), so we are making that happen as a first step. And let’s see in the future how our business is going to keep growing, so we are able to come up with a plan for something exciting (beyond that).”
Back in August Mazda confirmed that the Wankel rotary engine range-extender is slated for production sometime during 2019, in an upcoming hybrid electric vehicle rather than a sportscar replacement for the RX-8.
As explained by Mazda Motor Corporation director and senior managing executive officer with oversight of research and development, Kiyoshi Fujiwara at the company’s SkyActiv-X technological seminar in Frankfurt earlier this year, the vehicle will have no physical connection to the driving wheels, instead serving only as a top up for the battery pack, in much the same way as a motorcycle engine is tucked beneath the rear of the BMW i3 REx Range Extender.
“Mazda is developing an EV model by ourselves for 2019,” he said. “It will be available with a rotary range extender."As we reported at the time, it is believed that the range extender is a development of the 16X 1.6-litre rotary engine project, highlighting the scalable flexibility of the engine family, from electric vehicle distance booster to, potentially, the heart of a future high-performance sportscar.
Back in 2013, GoAuto drove a one-off Mazda2 concept car, dubbed the TPEV, that used a rotary range extender powertrain.
The last Mazda model to use a rotary powertrain was the RX-8 sportscar that was sold from 2003 to 2012. It was the successor to the RX-7 that sold across three generations from 1978 to 2002.
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