Mazda is planning to revive its famous rotary engine as part of a new electric vehicle (EV) strategy, launching the first in a new generation of electric models in 2020.
The Japanese brand announced its intention to initially launch two EVs, one powered solely by battery, the other pairing a battery with a small, lightweight rotary engine as a range extender.
The range extender will recharge the battery when necessary to increase the vehicle's driving range, like the system in a BMW i3 REX. Mazda says this will eliminate the range anxiety, which continues to trouble a high percentage of battery EV users.
Taking advantage of the rotary engine’s fuel flexibility, the range extender is designed to also burn liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) – reducing CO2 emissions.
Mazda believes that EVs will only account for 5% of its total sales in 2030, therefore is continuing to develop its existing Skyactiv-X petrol engine, which features world-first compression ignition.
The company is focused on well-to-wheel emissions, rather than tailpipe emissions, and points out that in many countries, the energy required to build and recharge electric cars can be worse for the environment that a regular fossil fuel engine.