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Mazda Contradicts Spokesman: Rotary Engine Will Also Be In HEVs and PHEVs

This must be one of the most bizarre events in recent times when it comes to corporate communication. First, rumors said Mazda would kill the rotary engine in the MX-30: the range extender would not be feasible. Asked about it, the company said it was not the case but that it had no date for that. Asked again, it said the car will arrive in 2022. We questioned Mazda ourselves and learned the rotary engine will be in more applications, such as PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles).
Mazda Electrification Plans 8 photos
SKYACTIV Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture Diesel Engine 48V Mild HEVSKYACTIV Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture Gasoline Engine 48V Mild HEVSKYACTIV Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture Gasoline Plug-In HybridMazda MX-30 With Rotary Engine Range ExtenderMazdaMazdaMazda
If it all that sounds confusing, this story started when Hans Greimel read in Nikkei and Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun that Mazda whas given up on the rotary engine. When he contacted the company, the Automotive News editor heard from Masahiro Sakata that it would still be offered, but the arrival date was “undecided.”

UPDATE: We have finally figured out what is happening and wrote a new article about that, leaving this text unchanged. The rotary engine will work only as a generator and that is key to understanding everything, but don't miss the explanation: just click right here.

Roadshow then contacted the American press relations department and heard that the plans for an MX-30 with a rotary engine range extender did not change and that Mazda will sell this car in 2022. We would have contacted Sakata to learn what happened, but we did not manage to locate him. Our best shot was to get in touch with the European and the American PR departments to understand what was going on.

Mazda’s European staff then told us that the rotary engine range extender will indeed arrive in 2022 with the MX-30. Not only that: the Japanese carmaker is also planning to offer PHEVs and HEVs with rotary engines, which implies they will also power the cars in some situations. Until now, we thought that the rotary engine would not be used to drive vehicles anymore due to stricter emission rules that it always struggled to comply with.

Electric vehicles with range extenders and plug-in hybrids are considered by many as the same thing. For them, they are simply series hybrid vehicles. Although they fit under this same classification, these EVs are very different “animals.” Electric cars with range extenders do not have a combustion engine helping to move them. Plug-in hybrids can charge their batteries and have the electric motor, the engine, or both of them powering the wheels.

Mazda makes a difference between them, demonstrating that the rotary engine will also drive the car in the PHEV and HEV products. If it were used only to power the electric motor in both these kinds of vehicles, Mazda would offer something similar to Nissan’s e-Power system, but that does not make sense if you set EVs and PHEVs apart.

The e-Power system has created electric vehicles that charge solely from an embedded ICE generator. Powering these cars with gasoline makes no difference to the fact that only the electric motors drive them. Calling them hybrids is not correct when it comes to how they move.

Regardless of the technical discussion involved, Mazda’s message here is clear: the rotary engine it developed will be cleaner than we could ever imagine. While we would still love to hear from the Japanese spokesman why he said this engine’s arrival was still undecided, Sakata may not be able to answer while he works for Mazda. For the brand’s fans, the good news is that they’ll have more options. Let’s just hope that 2022 confirms what the American and European PR departments told Roadshow and us.

 
 
 
 
 

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