Friday, 20 December 2013

New Mazda2 Range Extender Prototype Leaves Hope for Rotary Engine

Granted; a very Chevrolet Volt-like in philosophy Mazda Demio (Mazda2 for the rest of the world) prototype fitted with a range extender powertrain comprising an electric motor turning the wheels and a gasoline-fueled 0.33-liter rotary engine in the rear generating electricity for the supermini's lithium ion battery, isn't exactly promising for the future of rotary-powered Mazda sports cars.

But it's better than nothing, especially after new Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai admitted that there are no current plans to revive a rotary engine for mass production, or in other words, a successor to the RX-7 and RX-8 models. As long as Mazda engineers keep on working on the technology, there's hope…

Back to the Demio Range Extender study, Mazda showed the sub-compact to the press on Thursday in Japan. According to an Autonews report, Mazda said that while meeting stringent emissions regulations is a problem that needs to be solved, the rotary unit has many advantages, including its small size, running quietly with little vibration, and the ability to burn different fuels.

Like the pure-electric Demio EV, the range-extender hybrid uses a 75kW electric motor to turn the front wheels. The rotary engine is believed to almost double the 200km (124 mile) driving range of the electric model with a 10-liter (2.6 gallon) fuel tank.

Kogai told Autonews that while there are no specific production plans, the company is holding on the rotary technology "partially for sentimental reasons".

“We are the first and only manufacturer to commercialize the rotary engine,” he said. “In that respect, we have some responsibility.”



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