It’s been rumored for some time now, but I can now say it’s official: Mazda is bringing back the Wankel rotary engine. However, it’s coming back in a way you wouldn’t expect. The Japanese automaker has announced that the rotary engine will be used as a range extender for electric vehicles (EVs).
Two Mazda EVs are currently in the works, one being powered solely by electricity and the other utilizing a battery paired with the rotary engine. For the latter, the rotary engine will kick in to recharge the battery when the driving range needs to be increased. Mazda says this will eliminate “range anxiety” that comes with driving an EV. The reason Mazda is using the rotary engine for this application is that they’re small, light and quiet, so you’ll barely notice it.
Mazda will be releasing their first EVs in 2020 as part of their new “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030” development program.