Mazda's rotary engine to return as EV range extender

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      MazdaNewsThe Green Report      Mazda is bringing back the rotary engine but there’s a catch                    By Marc Carter

Mitsuo Hitomi, head of the Japanese manufacturer's powertrain division told Automotive News that the rotary engine will be installed in an EV as a range extender, and it could be on the road as early as 2019.

The 13B-MSP Renesis in the RX-8 is the last rotary engine designed by Mazda for production cars, with the 16X Renesis II following in 2007 in the Taiki Concept.

"I think that's probably what it will be", Hitomi said during a technology preview at the Japanese carmaker's testing facilities in Japan. The next iteration is heading toward an upcoming electric vehicle.

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Mazda's first EV is expected to hit the market alongside a hybrid in 2019.

The pure electric will target markets such as Japan, Europe and China, where an EV can get by with a shorter range. In North America, on the other hand, the range extender is a necessity because consumers have longer daily drives, according to Kyomen. The biggest hurdle has not been the technology, he said, but making the business case for another performance entry, on top of the MX-5 Miata already playing that role.

"Whether the business conditions will be met or not... not the big technical issues". There has even been a longstanding promise that a Wankel motor would eventually return in a future sports auto that would trump the MX-5 in outright performance. Despite putting it on hiatus after the RX-8 ended production in 2012, the automaker has continued developing rotary-based solutions to achieve locomotion.

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As usual, we are keeping our eyes peeled for definite news, but it seems that, until rotaries are definitely going into a vehicle to be released, Mazda is determined to hold its cards close to the chest.

But before the RX-9, the SkyActiv-R will be implemented in a battery-powered plug-in hybrid as a range extender.

The rotary engine will be ideal as a range extender due to its small size and its low vibration.

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