The rotary engine is synonymous with Mazda. It is what sets Mazda apart from every other manufacturer. GM liked it so well it toyed with making a mid-engine Corvette powered by a rotary engine back in the 1970s. But ever-tightening emissions restrictions spelled the end of the rotary in 2012. Until now.
Mazda is bringing back the rotary engine for 2022. But it won’t be the primary engine. Instead, it will be used in its next EV as a range extender in the MX-30. But before all of this happens two other versions of the MX-30 will arrive first. In Europe, you can get an MX-30 as an all-electric. It uses a 104-kWh electric motor with 139 hp.
Japan, however, will get a mild-hybrid version using a 2.0-liter e-Skyactiv G engine
Japan, however, will get a mild-hybrid version using a 2.0-liter e-Skyactiv G engine backed by an automatic transmission. An assist-motor of 5.1-kWh is powered by a 24-volt lithium-ion battery pack. It will be available with either two- or all-wheel drive.
Mazda then plans on producing the MX-30 with the rotary. It will be similar to the 2012 Mazda2 rotary prototype. While it was assumed that this setup would arrive not long after it looks like even 10 years will have passed between featuring it as a prototype and actually having it in production.
Though emissions spelled the end of the rotary, this application makes it different from how the engine was previously used. In low rpm applications like this, emissions aren’t an issue. And a rotary engine can be smaller so that it can be packaged easier.
The big question is will the hybrid rotary make it to the US?
So, the big question is will it make it to the US once it is launched in Japan? No one at Mazda is saying right now. But the good news is that the ability to power other models in Mazda’s lineup means it could find its way into the market. It just might not be in the MX-30.
Mazda has been saying for a while that higher range EVs are bad for the environment. It has resisted going with battery packs larger than 35.5-kWh because beyond a certain point the emissions are on a par with diesel-powered cars. Their calculations are based on the life-cycle of those battery packs for CO2 emissions. Even increasing the battery pack with a 95-kWh version would substantially increase emissions.
The hybrid version works to extend range without adding a larger environmental footprint
Mazda’s calculations also take into account the battery production as well as emissions from driving. So the hybrid version works to extend range without adding a larger environmental footprint. But it has said in the past that if the range were still a problem it would consider possibly increasing the kWh.
Whatever the ultimate combination is determined by Mazda we are pleased it decided that heritage and distinction are worth mining and cultivating. And were it to stick one of these hybrid systems into a Miata and call it an RX-7 we wouldn’t mind a bit.