By on July 12, 2021

Mazda

Mazda had planned to bring back the rotary engine as part of a range-extender for an electrified vehicle.

That plan is paused, at least for now.

Instead, it appears the rotary engine will return as a power assist for plug-in hybrids as well as series hybrids.

“We are still considering using rotary engine as a range extender, but the timing of its introduction is undecided,” spokesman Masahiro Sakata told Automotive News.

According to AN, reports in Japanese media suggest Mazda has dropped plans to use the rotary as a range extender in the upcoming MX-30. Supposedly, the rotary necessitated a bigger battery, and that would’ve driven up the MX-30’s cost too much.

Mazda had planned a global launch of the MX-30 with rotary range-extender for some time in the first half of 2022, with special attention paid to the American and European markets. A full EV version of the MX-30 launched last year in Europe and Japan, and the Japanese market also got a mild-hybrid version.

The journey of the rotary remains a strange one.

[Image: Mazda]

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29 Comments on “Mazda Puts Rotary Range Extender on Hold...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Geez, Mazda, let it go already. Internal combustion engines are on their way out for light passenger vehicles, the rotary has no future.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Expensive to manufacture and poor efficiency and emissions, but other than that, it’s awesome!

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      ICEs are going nowhere. Outside of the tightly constrained, feeble minds of well indoctrinated gullibles, there simply is no viable alternative. At least given current, and foreseeable future, infrastructure.

      The rotary is a bit of a longshot, though. It can’t be written off offhand, as it’s future utility largely an engineering question. But tech exotic enough to only have a tiny group of devout backers, while everyone else keep steadfastly refining more mainstream alternatives, at least tends to be, at best, an “enthusiast only” play.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        We all have our opinions. That you find it necessary to deliver yours with a level of arrogance and condescension does nothing to further your point, but it does a fabulous job of lowering my opinion of your thoughts.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          in other words, “I’m upset that you are so confident the world won’t go the way I want it to, in addition to your being able to articulate that elegantly.”

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “there simply is no viable alternative. At least given current, and foreseeable future, infrastructure.”

        This is probably true for 1% or so of the use cases, mostly involving people who live and work in the very most distant places from towns and cities. For the rest, EVs are going to work. There may be tradeoffs for some of the users, but there are also tradeoffs for ICE, and EVs will work.

        You or I as US voters have no control over this. It is being driven by non-US regulators who have enough of the market under their control to decide the product planning decisions of the automakers. On the one hand, you need to start adjusting to fast-charging stops on your long trips that will be a bit longer and more frequent than gas stops. On the other hand, stinky cold-start exhaust and stabby gas stations will soon be a thing of the past.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          “There may be tradeoffs for some of the users,”

          And that’s a no-go. Horse drawn buggies also would ultimately “work.” Just not very efficiently. At least not compared to ICE vehicles. Transportation is a huge component of almost every aspect of modern societies. Any artificially imposed gross inefficiencies, simply isn’t sustainable. And storage of the equivalent of 25 gallons of gas and diesel in batteries, is about as efficient as storing it in the form of hay.

          It’s much, much more than 1% of use cases which favors ICEs. Worldwide, in the places where populations are growing the fastest, and where fleet growth has the greatest potential, it’s almost all. Even in the US, BEVs, for most, make sense only if they also have access to an ICE vehicle.

          For city/suburban and commuting use, EVs can be a bit of an improvement. But modern ICEs aren’t THAT bad. But for many of the use cases favoring ICEs, BEVs are a complete no-go. So people still need ICE cars. Hence ICE infrastructures. And they need those capabilities for a low price. Not something which costs a fortune; even despite crazy subsidies of both the vehicle itself and the self promoting clowns hawking them.

          So, for most, the first choice for first car, will be an ICE (perhaps a hybrid). Doubly so if they have to pay for it all by themselves. Then, for urban’ish types, it may make sense for the second one to be a smaller BEV. That breakdown does make sense for many. And would still represent big growth for BEVs.

          Of course, the same yahoos who uncritically parrot whatever empty hype the Man on TV spout, are also usually the ones bent on restricting urban populations’ ability to even obtain a place to live, much less parking for their vehicles. So, that second BEV, which would make lots of sense, and would reduce emissions exactly where emissions are problematic, often won’t be bought. After all, the only thing Dimbulb McUselessFedLeech is more adamant about than parroting silly party lines, is preventing other people from building themselves decent sized houses with garages in decent neighborhoods.

          Wrt the scary carbon bogeyman: Some yahoo in San Francisco driving a BEV, only results in lessened demand for oil reducing oil prices such that another African guerilla dude can afford another trip in his truck… Oil is a valuable resource for every human on earth. Concentrated, convenient energy always has been, is and will be. It’s what made humanity wealthier. Short of finding a way to destroy in ground oil reserves (fat chance the US military would do that instead of keeping them around…) beyond the point of repair, recoverable oil will be recovered and burnt. The rest is just silly politicking, grandstanding and theater.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      CA is telling people not to charge their EVs

      EVs won’t happen until the grid gets many many many more power plants

      since “green energy” is unreliable, that means more nuclear or fossil fuel plants

      but the most of the same people who want EVs want none of that

      ICEs will be around a lot longer – I’d bet hybrid tech will be make that happen

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    As I’ve mentioned before, this was a stupid idea from the beginning.

    Range extenders sound good on paper, but they are notoriously poor sellers, and technologically unnecessary as BEV ranges now match ICE ranges. BMW’s i3 ReX was a danger to drive when its limp range extender proved incapable of maintaining vehicle speeds under load.

    Moreover, they add complexity and cost to an otherwise simple BEV. I’d rather have 150 mile range with a BEV than 250 mile range from a range-extended EV, since the last 100 miles could be harrowing.

    Finally, Mazda has no business continuing to squander its meager resources on the rotary. This effort is just a bone for its development engineers, who ought to be working on products its customers will actually buy. Besides, it was never clear that this new rotary was going to be emissions compliant or reliable.

    40+ years of being known for the rotary engine, which hasn’t been in a production car in a decade. It’s like an actor who is only remembered for their first role. Mazda needs to find its way quickly; Step 1 is to put the rotary behind it for good.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I meant 50+ years.

      Some tech needs to die – flat head engines, carburetors, mechanical fuel pumps, cork gaskets, and ignition points all were replaced with better stuff. Nostalgia aside, the rotary’s day is over.

      That MX-30 is a cute little vehicle, but I think the captive rear doors tell the buyer that this is really a small 2-door CUV – not a winning marketing formula.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        Oh nooooo! Not the flat head, carburetor, and ignition points! I just got my old Ford 9N (2N actually as I just discovered) running well again and you want to take it all away? Next you’ll tell me that 6 volt positive ground electrical systems are on the chopping block. Arrrgh!

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        SCE, agreed on the rotary, and I think you are right on the range extender insofar as it was a stopgap measure at a particular moment of transition into BEVs. And I know you have far more experience in this area than I do.

        It’s possible you are exaggerating the REX from a safety standpoint, though. I considered them for a while, and understood the range extender to best work in conjunction with the battery, not once the battery was completely depleted. Only in that scenario would it be harrowing on highway speeds. But it was entirely possible to make it ‘kick in’ earlier – according to my research, you could do this as soon as the battery was down to 75% of its capacity, either from the factory or with some coding (US/Europe differences, don’t remember which).

        What ultimately made me give up on the idea was not the powertrains nor the BMW pricetag, as the interior was pretty damn unique… but it was the damn wheels. They are such an unusual size, I would have to rely on the mercy of a single manufacturer. I decided I was not up for that.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Well, don’t worry too much. The EV-only version of the MX-30 is scheduled to release in California only in “Fall 2021” … we’ll see how that goes. Also, if you call Mazda rudderless, I think fairness requires that we criticize the car industry as a whole. EV offerings from all non-Tesla manufacturers are selling slowly. No manufacturer (with anything to lose) will stick its neck out and cut off ICE engine manufacturing, unless forced to. Tesla started with almost nothing, so they have moved in and filled a niche. Jaguar has dwindled to nothing, so they have nothing to lose by switching to EVs. The manufacturers inbetween are moving with great caution.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        For Porsche, the Taycan is selling at almost exactly the same rate at the evergreen 911, and handily outsells the Panamera. Clearly, Porsche is not a mainstream carmaker, but I have no doubt they are making money on their electric.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      It’s not about BEV ranges matching ICE ranges.

      Clearly you haven’t thought through the entire thing. Or else you live in a cave. Or both.

      Don’t claim to speak for people who actually live out in the real world.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Wasn’t PHEV always the plan for the North American market?
    I recall Mazda saying few years ago that the US market driving habits would make hybrids and PHEV (not ReX) a better choice and the US Mazda website mentions MX-30 PHEV for 2022 (2023 model year).

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    It will be the only range extended electric vehicle that gets 11mpg.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Niche mfgs such as Volvo, Mazda and JLR should have just licensed Toyota’s HSD for one product cycle and the option of another. That would have been enough time to figure out the right direction while appearing to be “green”. Sure EV tyranny suddenly pretends reliable hybrid tech no longer exists, but I doubt for niche brands the jackboot thugs are going to call them out on not being good enough. Seriously, there are plenty of like minded people still in HSD who won’t being like called literally Hitler/Stalin/Mao/Pol Pot by the lunatics.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Actually the upcoming Mazda SUV to be built in the new Alabama will be using Toyota THS, as well as the European market Mazda2 replacement (based on Toyota Yaris).

      Mazda did also have a THS based Mazda3 in the past in the Japanese home market. It was well reviewed but failed commercially. That was part of what got Mazda on the diesel path over the past few years.

      Hopefully their endeavor will be more successful this time.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s interesting to know, I think at this point not as many buyers will poo poo the Toyota licensed hybrid if it still offers Mazda driving dynamics.

        • 0 avatar
          Varezhka

          Yeah, according to one interview article with Akio Toyota, Toyota engineers called HQ that Mazda made a THS based hybrid that’s better than their own. And driving that 2013 Mazda3 hybrid got him to seek out the 2015 long term partnership agreement.

          Supposedly the current Toyota hybrids actually incorporates a lot of what they learned from Mazda, so they know what they’re doing. Here’s hoping the new one will be as good as they say.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      I want to be a jackbooted thug.
      Where can you get a pair of jackboots?

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      comin back the 15th! no step on snek! remember ashley babtard! pillowbiter guy has all the proof hes going to show you! keep the faith :)

  • avatar
    mcs

    Mazda is screwing around with rotary engines while Tesla filed for a patent on a lower-cost method of extracting lithium and another for electrolyte additives. Mazda trying to extend the past while Tesla is finding ways to win in the future.

    https://html.scribdassets.com/7oaqwxq1vk8sdofj/images/1-c5ac77d416.jpg

    EV competition will probably not look anything like what it was in the ICE era. Most ICE vehicles were relatively close in cost and performance from one company to another. I think we well see much greater disparities between auto companies in the EV world. The companies like Tesla, VW, Toyota, and Hyundai/Kia that are investing in research into lowering the cost of battery production, new manufacturing tech (eg. gigapress), new motor tech (that 20k rpm motor that tesla has is awesome), and battery research at the molecular level will dominate the others by a wide margin.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      You act as thought working the future technology is inherently superior to refining the existing technology.

      They’re equally valid routes to take.

      You’re right that EV world will not look like the ICE world. For one, the EV world will use this as an excuse to take away usefulness and then make you subscribe, ongoing, at a higher cost.

      Fsck that.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “They’re equally valid routes to take.”

        Not if you’re Mazda. “Refining existing technology” is fine, but the rotary is a relic that Mazda wears as a badge of honor.

        Hyundai/Kia, for example, has done an excellent job producing 1.6L hybrids that can get 35-55+ mpg in the real world.

        Mazda’s obituary will point to its slavish dedication to the rotary as a primary reason for its downfall.

    • 0 avatar

      @mcs You mean GM does not invest money in new tech like batteries and electric motors?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    It was always hubris for Mazda to think it, a single small carmaker, could make the rotary competitive with piston engines that have had the benefit of many big carmakers leveraging each other’s engine R&D over the years.

    And, in general, vehicles with both ICE powertrains and heavy long-range batteries aren’t going to compete well, especially as charging infrastructure gets built out. There may be use cases where they really are best, but it’s going to be hard to stomach the fuel costs associated with that much weight and the maintenance costs of two powertrains.

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