Although it’s probably not quite the rotary all of the fans are expecting to see, this special Mazda2 RE prototype does feature a new rotary engine, virtually cementing in the fact Mazda is committed to developing the Wankel layout.
The special prototype is essentially an electric vehicle only it uses a 0.33-litre rotary as an energy generator to recharge a lithion-ion battery when power starts to run low.
The rotary unit runs on petrol just like a conventional rotor engine, and it’s mounted in the back of the little Mazda2 under the cargo area floor. It does not provide any direct power to the driven wheels.
So, why a rotary? Engineers are apparently liking the design due to its compact size which could potentially be worked into almost any vehicle platform. It’s also said to run smoothly and quietly, and run consistently at its sweet spot.
The unit comes with a 10-litre petrol tank to help extend the range of the electric front-wheel drive setup. It’s understood the potential range is around 400km.
Mazda hasn’t announced any official plans to put the prototype into production. At this stage, it is simply a technical project showcasing the possibilities of future electric-based mobility.
The company is still believed to be planning a new sports car using an all-new rotary engine. Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai recently told Automotive News that the rotary has sentimental values within the company. He said,
“We are the first and only manufacturer to commercialise the rotary engine. In that respect, we have some responsibility.”