Mazda Confirms Rotary’s Return As An EV Range Extender In Paris

Though we haven’t been able to get one since the RX-8 was discontinued in 2012, the rotary engine has been essential to Mazda’s enthusiast appeal for decades. And now the Japanese automaker has at long last confirmed that it’s bringing it back… only not in the form you might expect.

At the Paris Auto Show this week, Mazda confirmed its intent to launch its first electric vehicle. Two of them, in fact: one powered solely by battery, and another with a range-extender. And that range-extender will be – you guessed it – a rotary engine.

Similar to what you might find in, say, the BMW i3 REX, the range-extender will allow the forthcoming EV to travel further once the batteries are depleted, burning fossil fuels to recharge the pack. It’ll even be able to run on liquified petroleum gas (LPG), further enhancing the model’s green credentials.

Unfortunately that’s about all we know about the forthcoming new model at this point, but the manufacturer notes that the Wankel engine (as the rotary is otherwise known by its inventor’s name) is ideally suited to serve as a range-extender due to its high output relative to its compact size.

Pictured is the rather stunning RX-Vision show car that Mazda revealed in 2015 as a conceptual potential successor to the RX-7 and RX-8. The new EV, we’re sorry to say, will probably look more like a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt than a sleek sports car. But whatever form it takes, it will form an essential part of Mazda’s so-called Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 plan.

The initiative will see battery-powered EVs account for five percent of its production by the end of the next decade, and the lion’s share (the remaining 95 percent) by hybrids employing a mix of electric motor and an internal-combustion engine. So one way or another, come 2030, everything Mazda makes will be electrified in some form or another.

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  • Sean Sweeney
  • Sean Sweeney
  • Six_Tymes

    such an amazing design concept, i doubt we will ever see production

    • ksegg

      Mazda isn’t Toyota. Or Infiniti. They’re small enough still to be agile with concept-production, IMO.

  • ksegg

    Mazda’s Kodo Language design is exciting these days, and that to me is hilarious.

    If you told me 20 years ago Mazda’s would be cooler than Mercedes-Benz I would’ve laughed my ass off.

    Yet here we are.

  • Rocket

    While I’d love to see something sexy and sporty, for Mazda’s sake the first EV model w/Range Extender should be a crossover. Since they have a sizable hole in their lineup between the CX-5 and CX-9, may I suggest a CX-7, or some variation thereof?

    • Please no, enough crossovers already.

      • Rocket

        Like it or not, mainstream brands can’t survive without them. The US market says there are not remotely enough of them. If another Mazda crossover keeps the Miata, 3 and 6 alive, I’ll gladly tolerate it.

  • Sybill Julian

    rx7 rear in modern design

  • I really doubt that we will get RX sports car for the new rotary, I’m however hoping for new range extender hybrid with rotary engine, still I tip my hat for Mazda for keeping the rotary engine alive.

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