Mazda had made it clear during the recent Tokyo Motor Show that it was planning on reviving the rotary engine. Though customers might be hoping that the rotary engine would be making its comeback in a nifty new sports car, based on an interview that the Japanese automotive manufacturer’s global powertrain chief gave to Automotive News, it is more likely that it would be used as a range extender in an electric vehicle, to extend the range that would be provided by the vehicle’s electric batteries.
A rotary engine would be an ideal candidate to work as a range extender thanks to its small size and minimal vibration. Thus, placement is not an issue. It could be placed anywhere without having a significant impact when it comes to space for passengers and cargo. It would also make minimal contribution to the noise.
Mazda has not totally spurned the notion of using a larger rotary engine in a sports car. It does however already have a sports car, the MX-5 Miata that is doing quite well and sports cars do not add much to the bottomline.
Mazda has plans to debut its first EV by 2019, and it would have two variants – a pure EV that would be sold in smaller countries where range is not likely to ba a prime concern and the one with the range-extender that would be sold in larger markets like the US.
While conventional engines have cylinders that move vertically up and down along a crankshaft, a rotary engine has a triangular rotor that rotates through all four stages of internal combustion — intake, compression, ignition and exhaust. They have the benefit of being compact and light, but offer low torque and do not perform well when it comes to fuel economy. It remains to be seen how Mazda’s new take on the rotary engine will pan out.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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