Upon first hearing of the possible revival of the rotary engine, we’ve waited with bated breath over what the next-gen wankel powerplant would be like. Will it actually be more reliable? Can it stack up against conventional piston engines? Would it breathe more fire? Well, if Mazda’s Vice President of Sales and Customer Service for Europe, Martijn ten Brink’s word is of any credit, the rotary will indeed be back – merely as a range extender for a future Mazda EV model.
According to Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom 2030 plan, the Japanese manufacturer based in Hiroshima is set to create an all-electric model which is set to arrive some time next year. While there are no details about the vehicle itself, Brink mentioned that the EV will be available with an optional range-extender in the form of a new wankel rotary engine.
The engine then appeared to have been given a secondary role, being "not really necessary because the average buyer travels an average of 37 miles (60 kilometers) per day from home to work and back again.” The ’s main goal will be to 'take away any concerns from customers', i.e. range anxiety.
The unit itself then will act as a generator, and thus won’t come with a complex twin turbocharged system unlike the 13B-REW from the Mazda RX7. This new engine will be ‘no larger than a shoebox’ and will be placed relatively low in the car’s structure to provide optimum balance and weight distribution.
With Mazda yet to say what exactly the upcoming EV will be, we're not entirely sure if it will be variation of the RX Vision Concept, or a completely new vehicle.
So, is this enough to say the rotary engine is back? Or should Mazda just have kept it dead instead?