Mazda is bringing back the Wankel engine, but not as we know it.
The automaker on Monday confirmed plans for a rotary range extender for electric versions of the MX-30. The compact crossover, which debuted in 2019, will also be offered in some markets with a mild-hybrid powertrain based on a 2.0-liter inline-four.
The rotary-powered MX-30 will debut on January 13 at the 2023 Brussels Motor Show. European sales are set to follow in the spring, although US availability has not been announced.
2022 Mazda MX-30
The MX-30 has been sold in the US since the 2022 model year, though only in California.
Mazda said the rotary engine in the extended-range MX30 is a new design. The engine serves as a generator and not as a direct source of power for movement.
The current MX-30 has a 35.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that the EPA rates as having a range of just 100 miles. It is not clear how much range the vehicle will have with the range extender.
Mazda 2 RE Range Extender Concept
Mazda has already shown an electric car with a range extender: the Mazda 2 RE range extender concept presented in 2013. Its rotary was a 0.33-liter, single-rotor unit that could deliver an additional 111 miles of range on a full tank.
Mazda’s efforts to reduce emissions from its rotary engine mean that a rotary engine sports car is unlikely to return to market unless Mazda can somehow develop an electrified version that meets increasingly stringent emissions regulations, something the automaker is after recently seems to try patents.
By 2030, every vehicle in Mazda’s lineup will be electrified in some form. It’s part of the automaker’s overall goal of achieving a 90 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 compared to 2010 levels.