Mazda has done it. The company has found a way to preserve its iconic rotary engine in an era of increasing electrification, Automotive News reports. Now, it’s going to be popping the rotary engine into the plug-in hybrid version of its MX-30 crossover.
Mazda quit making rotary engines back in 2012 as increasingly stringent environmental regulations saw the design fall behind the eco-friendly times. But fans loved it, and Mazda wanted to find a way to preserve that element of its engineering history. Now, instead of moving the car, the rotary engine will actually create the electricity that will power the other systems in the car.
We first wrote about Mazda’s intentions back in January of this year, when the company filed a patent for a rear wheel drive rotary hybrid. Now we have more details.
From Nikkei Asia:
Conventional engines rely on the up-and-down motion of pistons. Mazda’s rotary engine, by contrast, uses triangular rotors that spin, making the structure as a whole more compact. It also boasts high output and low vibration.
Some parts makers say the company is aiming to double the MX-30’s range by adding the rotary engine as a generator.
The pricing of the revamped MX-30 is unclear. The company may adopt the same rotary engine-assisted system in other cars in the medium to long term.
“This is the most Mazda-like initiative in their electrification strategies, and the market is looking at how it will contribute to the sales volume,” said analyst Eiji Hakomori of Daiwa Securities.
The electric Mazda MX-30 is primarily a California-only vehicle here in the United States, and it has a much wider distribution in Europe and Japan. It’s been something of a perplexing vehicle here thanks to its high price and low range, but the addition of a PHEV version might just help the vehicle gain better traction.