The Wankel rotary engine returns to its native land at last. Since the NSU Ro 80 went out of production in 1977, Mazda has been the keeper of the flame. But Audi has announced that it will show an A1 e-tron concept at the Geneva show this week, and the pug-in will feature a single-rotor Wankel range extender (gen set). Rotaries and micro-turbines have often been suggested as the ultimate range extenders due to their compact size and low weight.
The “e-tron” will become a moniker for all electrified Audis, promises Audi chief Rupert Stalder to the German magazine Focus, “just like Quattro has become synonymous for four-wheel drive.”
Audi is claiming a 31 mile range in EV mode, before the rotary begins to spin juice. Rotaries are generally less efficient than piston engines, but the trade-off for weight and power density may make it worthwhile. According to Green Car Congress, the A1 e-tron will only have an additional 124 miles running on its single rotor Wankel range extender. Must be a mighty small fuel tank, or is the rotary really that thirsty?