It looks like the rotary engine is out once again.
Mazda’s tenuous relationship with the Wankel rotary engine over the past few years has been no secret. First it was coming in a much-hyped RX-8 followup, then it wasn’t. Then it was to be a range extender for the brand’s MX-30, and now it apparently isn’t. Automotive News reports that the automaker shelved the idea that was slated to make a U.S. and European appearance next year.
“We are still considering using the rotary engine as a range extender, but the timing of its introduction is undecided,” said spokesperson Masahiro Sakata in an interview with the outlet. At the moment, Mazda corporate as a whole has not commented on the matter.
As it stands, the pure battery-electric MX-30 (shown above) will launch in California this fall. The rotary engine-equipped plug-in hybrid, on the other hand, would use the small-displacement motor as a means to charge up the main battery, similar to the BMW i3. That would add substantially to the Mazda MX-30 BEV’s miserly 124-mile range. Mind you, that’s also using the WLTP standard, which tends to be more optimistic than EPA figures. Without that rotary — which Japanese outlets Nikkei and Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun claim was shelved due to price concerns with both the extender and a larger battery — the MX-30 may well struggle to gain traction, even in California. Range-wise, Mazda’s first crack at an EV falls in line with the Mini Cooper SE.
Other models, like the Tesla Model 3, can more or less offer triple the MX-30’s estimated range. However, Mazda’s decision to back off incorporating the rotary in an EV powertrain may not be a permanent decision. Since they’re still “considering it”, it may end up in one of their upcoming EVs. It’s fate is certainly cloudier now. Time, as always, will tell on that one.
We chat more about the Mazda MX-30 below (just ignore the rotary bit):