Will Mazda's Rotary Come Back in a Hybrid?

Mazda-Rotary-Engine

No company has more experience with Wankel-style rotary engines than Mazda. Recently, the company showcased a 330cc rotary engine designed to act as a range extending generator on the Mazda 2-based EVs for the home (JDM) market. That power plant is mounted on its side, at the rear of the vehicle, and weighs less than 100 kg.

In recent comments to Australia’s Motoring.com, Mazda’s Australian Managing Director Martin Benders said the range extender model would not be available in Australia and offered some interesting insights into how manufacturers view the world marketplace and adjust their product lineup accordingly.

“The only markets in which you can justify bringing something like that out, to get at least a reasonable amount of volume to justify setting it up as a saleable model, are ones where there’s government support for those types of models.”

“I don’t know whether we should be spending government money to force the industry,” said Benders. “In Japan, hybrids sort of took over as the brand of choice, but only for people who want the easy route to being green – (people who say) ‘I’ll buy a hybrid so that makes me green’ – not people who actually think about whether it’s a viable technology or not.”

Isn’t it refreshing to hear from a fellow who speaks his mind, rather than opaque “corporate speak”? Benders went on to say that, because it’s more expensive and more resource-intensive to produce, current hybrid-electric technology cannot match the overall CO2 reduction available with Mazda’s more affordable, “conventional” SkyActiv gas and diesel engines. In a mid-size car like the Mazda 6, Mazda claims some 40 MPG with the current SkyActiv engines, and promises that the next wave of those will make the company’s upcoming Mazda 2 model up to 20% more efficient than the 2014 versions.

So, Mazda will likely offer a range-extending hybrid model equipped with a Wankel rotary – similar to the proposed InMotion LMP1 car – in the Japanese market, but it may not get to Australia. And what about the US market? We will have to wait for now to find out what Mazda will do with its latest Mazda 2 model when it comes to America.

 

Source | Images: Mazda, via Motoring.

 

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.