Mazda2 Range Extender Prototype Revealed, With Rotary Power Photo:
2013_mazda2_re_range_extender_01 Photo: tmr
2013_mazda2_re_range_extender_02 Photo: tmr

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Trevor Collett | Dec, 23 2013 | 5 Comments

The rotary engine may live to fight another day as a future on-board generator for range-extending electric vehicles.

Mazda has revealed the Mazda2 RE (Rotary Engine) Range Extender prototype, with a rear-mounted 0.33 litre rotary engine providing power to recharge the EV’s lithium-ion batteries.

The prototype was revealed last week at a briefing about future drivetrain technologies, and comes just a month after Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai ruled out a return to mass-production of the rotary. (For now... - Ed.)

A rotary engine may just prove an ideal range-extending generator, with the obvious advantage being its compact size.

Overcoming increasingly strict emissions laws could also be easier for a small rotary that is only needed to recharge batteries, rather than powering the entire vehicle.

Last month, Mr Kogai said that Mazda would need to sell at least 100,000 rotary engines per year for the power-plant to be commercially viable, and a Mazda2 EV could have a much better chance of reaching that figure than a sports car with a more limited mass-market appeal, such as the RX-7.

The Mazda2 RE Range Extender is just a prototype for now, but as Mr Kogai said the carmaker is continuing its research on rotary engines, there’s a chance the car could be put into production.

"We are the first and only manufacturer to commercialize the rotary engine. In that respect, we have some responsibility," Mr Kogai said last month. "So please allow us to continue our research."

Mazda already builds an all-electric Mazda2 with a range of around 200km, but the range- extending prototype with its 10 litre fuel tank can double that range.

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