Mazda is bringing back the rotary engine, but not as we know it.
The Japanese automaker on Tuesday used the backdrop of the 2018 Paris auto show to confirm plans for a rotary range extender in a future electric car.
Mazda said it is working on two EVs and one will feature a small, lightweight and nearly silent rotary to charge the battery on the run. Mazda also said the rotary would be able to run on liquefied natural gas in addition to gasoline. Unfortunately, there was no mention of launch dates for either EV.
A Mazda exec in March dropped the first details on the rotary comeback plans, stating at the time that the rotary should take up no more space than a pair of shoeboxes. He also hinted that the range-extended EV it will sit in will share a platform with the next-generation Mazda 3, and that the vehicle will likely be an SUV.
Mazda 2 RE Range Extender concept
Mazda has already shown an electric car with a rotary range extender: the Mazda 2 RE Range Extender concept (shown above) unveiled in 2013. Its rotary was a single-rotor 0.33-liter engine that with a full tank of gasoline could provide an additional 111 miles of range. A similar setup will likely feature in the new EV.
Unfortunately, Mazda didn't have anything to say on whether we'll see a rotary in a sports car, whether as a direct source of power or as a range extender. We know Mazda is developing a rotary to power a sports car, but getting the engine to meet emissions standards may still rule it out for production. One solution could be combining it with electrification.
Mazda also on Tuesday said that every vehicle in its lineup by 2030 will feature some form of electrification. It's part of the automaker's overarching goal to achieve a 90-percent reduction in emissions versus 2010 levels by 2050.
For more from the Paris auto show, head to our dedicated hub.