Mazda Confirms Return Of Rotary In 2019 As An EV Range Extender – With A Twist

It’s been a while since we last talked about Mazda bringing back the rotary engine, something that’s been on and off the cards for a number of years. The RX-Vision concept that was revealed in 2015 made everyone cry “just build it alrady!”, but Hiroshima has remained coy about it.

We already knew that the automaker was working on an electric vehicle that would use a rotary not to propel the wheels, but as a range extender. Now, though, there’s official confirmation from a company exec that a car with such a powertrain is indeed coming our way in 2019.

Martijn ten Brink, Mazda Motor Europe’s Vice President of Sales and Customer Service, told AutoRAI that the long-awaited return of the rotary engine will indeed happen next year, though it might not be in the way its fans would expect.

“With our Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 strategy, we have outlined a complete plan for our future”, ten Brink told the Dutch website. “An electric car is part of that plan, mainly because some markets require us to do so.”

He also said that, despite the EV, Mazda still has faith in conventional engines: “As far as we’re concerned, the internal combustion engine is far from written off. Even in 15 to 25 years, it will still be present in cars, simply because hybrids and plug-in hybrids require an internal combustion engine, too”.

The new EV that will debut next year will, according to the Japanese automaker’s exec, be built on its new modular small car platform and will be close to the Mazda3 in size. It will use a single-rotor engine mounted horizontally instead of vertically, as it used to be until now, as a range extender, pretty much like the e-Palette concept that was unveiled by Toyota at this year’s CES convention.

In a rather unexpected twist, though, he added that it won’t necessarily be powering a sports car. In fact, Mazda may pull a Mitsubishi Eclipse stunt and use this powertrain on a crossover. Now, having whetted our appetite not just with the RX-Vision, but the striking RX-Vision Coupe that was displayed last year at the Tokyo Motor Show as well, it would be an anticlimax to see an SUV instead of the proper sports car we have been waiting since 2012, when the last RX-8 rolled off the assembly line.

On the other hand, maybe ten Brink is sandbagging, trying to keep the exact identity of Mazda’s first-ever EV a secret. At least we sure hope he does, as either of these concepts would do just fine in production guise, even if the rotary takes a back seat to electric motors.

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  • SteersUright

    They should at least sell the design of that stunning sports car concept to another company with the cojones to actually build it.

    • khc

      – while Mazda smartly builds something the public might actually want to buy.

    • Bo Hanan

      Holla!

    • PhilMcGraw

      Nobody said they weren’t going to build it. In fact, I’m not sure why everyone jumps on one piece of news that answers a question as confirmation to another question.

      The guy was not asked about whether he thought they would build something like the RX Vision concept. The guy was not asked about whether he thought they could build a high end coupe or sedan to slot in above the Mazda 6. The guy was not asked about whether there would be an RX-9.

      The guy simply talked about the return of a rotary engine as a range extender and that you’ll first see the return of the rotary next year. He never discounted the rumors that suggested they may improve on the rotary and build another sports car or that they wouldn’t build something high-end that was previewed by the RX Vision concept.

      In fact, if you look at OTHER news articles you will find that Mazda time and time again has suggested their end strategy is to move more upscale in the market. Anyone with half a brain knows this means introducing vehicles that start at $45k-50k and above. So that would include something like a Mazda 9 sedan or a RX-9 sports car.

      So until you see an article that has a direct quote that says “We are not building the RX Vision concept”, then just read the news story for what it actually is talking about instead of interpreting it to mean something more.

      • Bo Hanan

        We only have their history (of which you seem to have forgotten) to go by.

  • Leconte Dave
    • Bo Hanan

      I was thinking the same thing- confusion. Thought they said; “were done with rotaries.”
      Dear Mazda; Please DO NOT produce a complicated piece of junk. And the engine should have more torque than HP, and last more than 75K miles. Use the K.I.S.S. methodology, i.e. in the spirit of the original RX-7. Oh, and don’t call it RX-7. Just let that name rest in peace.

  • :/ Yurr

    Sure Mazda sure 😑

  • Six_Tymes

    1: if they finally build this, Awesome! 2: If they use newer technologies such as this range extender idea, even more Awesome. Because, that would give reason to build it in the first place, and provide a broader appeal, making it have a fighting chance of becoming more successful. The I can buy one.

  • Harry_Wild

    Mazda has great engineers but their management is sort of idotic to say the least! EVs are 1% of sales in the U.S. marketplace and more then half of them are government purchases; so 1/2% are consumer buys. Why does Mazda want to get into the EV market? Mazda have concepts and competitive advantages that they just ignore or do not use. They have models that would be a big hit in the U.S. but will not import them! They want to move up to the next level in the food chain to near luxury but will not offer higher performance engine options, etc…

  • d’Aforde

    In the true spirit of Zoom-zoom, Mazda should build a throw-back RX-9 that simply has a rotary engine and a 7-speed manual. Something that can tangle with the Mustang and Camaro. To make the project more economical, they could make a Mazda6 coupe with a rotary and a manual, too.

  • liams92

    Range extended EV’s by wankel/rotary make a whole load of sense. Battery tech is expensive and the average person does under 30 miles a day. This way you sell a car with a smaller battery for day to day use with the ability to tap into petrol for longer journeys. Rotary engines are high revving so they are very inaficient revving up and down through gears like a conventional car, however as they have little moving parts and small packaging, they make great genorators. First saw this in 2010 with the Audi A1 e-tron concept.

  • Bash

    That news will be great if they actually going to build it.

  • Carlos Gamarra

    oh they better not pull a Mitsubishi

  • Marty716

    Build this!!!!!!!! Call it the MX-7 and give it to turbo 4 in the CX-7.

  • Learjet

    Seriously? After the last rotary debacle? I paid a mint for an RX8 and over the course of just a few years I practically had to spend the same amount for engine repairs, rust and and a whole host of other calamities. Biggest. Piece. Of. Sh*t Ever.

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