Reports of the return of Mazda’s fabled rotary engine seem to be true and its application reads like the perfect solution for all situations.
Earlier news stories reported that Mazda was hard at work continuing the development of the rotary engine. We were in Tokyo a few years ago and in a group discussion, Mazda engineers confirmed that the brand’s iconic engine would return likely as part of an electrified program.
At the launch of the new Mazda CX-30, managing executive officer in charge of powertrain development, Ichiro Hirose, spoke to Australia’s Drive.com.au and shared some details about the imminent return of the rotary mill in a Mazda product.
As reported multiple times over the last year, the rotary will be one element in an electrified powertrain but contrary to these early stories, the compact mill will be able to provide momentum to the car in which it is set up. In a way, Mazda XEV technology will be a 3-mode hybrid system.
The rotary engine will be mated to a battery and an electric motor. Depending on the application and emissions standards of a given market, the XEV can function as a mild hybrid, series hybrid or a battery electric vehicle with a rotary range extender as part of a PHEV.
The system will thus function only as an EV over a specific distance, depending on load demands. The rotary can run as a generator to extend that range – it could potentially run on liquified petroleum gas, or LPG. In a different scenario, the rotary can power the wheels and call upon battery power for lighter throttle requirements like a typical series hybrid. In some markets, the rotary will be the main source of power where the battery will serve to boost performance.
This immense flexibility, and not to mention very compact powertrain given the rotary’s diminutive dimensions, will allow Mazda to offer XEV all over the world without re-engineering or re-developing the technology.