Mazda’s Electric Car Gets a Rotary Range Extender

Japanese automaker Mazda has added a small Wankel engine to its electric vehicles, making for a very interesting plug-in hybrid.

One of the biggest concerns with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is the weight of the battery and the availability of the minerals it contains. We recently reported on a study that concluded that he could reduce lithium demand by as much as 42% by simply limiting EV battery size, even if the U.S. transportation system continues to be car-centric.

Even though 60% of car trips are less than 6 miles and commuters average about 20 miles each way, automakers are rolling out large battery packs to address range concerns. continue. They carry around a ton of batteries that they don’t need most of the time, and pay the initial and operational costs of moving all that weight.

Known for making cars that are light and agile, Mazda (I miss my Miata!) has been underperforming in the world of electric vehicles. His MX30-EV in its standard he had a 35.5 kWh battery and a range of about 100 miles.

Reviews were negative. Car and Driver said, “It lacked key attributes of a successful EV. The $34,000 crossover delivered just 100 miles in EPA range and just 70 more miles in highway range testing. Seconds.” ”

Mazda Wankel rotary engine.


But Mazda was once a major force in the rotary engine, sometimes called “Wankel” after its German inventor, Felix Wankel. They were inferior in thermodynamics, but simple and small.

Now Mazda has a tiny 830cc spinner pumping 75 horsepower into the EV. However, the wheels of the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV do not drive.

“Mazda chose to use a rotary engine to drive the generator system. Leveraging the unique way a rotary engine can produce the required power output in a small power unit, Mazda decided to use the new rotary engine as a generator. Developed to work and placed on the same axle as a high power motor and generator in the motor room.


The generator charges a small 17.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. On battery alone, the car can travel 53 miles, which is more than enough for most people’s daily trips. But when the weekend comes and he wants to start the engine out of town, the rotary kicks in and a 50-liter (13.2-gallon) gas tank gives him 400 miles (about 400 miles).

It’s a conundrum. Hybrid vehicles add complexity and cost and carry both petrol and electric drives. Here we carry around a small engine and gas tank as a range extender. But looking at your use case, it makes a lot of sense. In my family, my wife does not have to fill that tank for her eight months of the year. But when she wants to go 150 miles north in the summer, the car works just fine without carrying about 1000 pounds of batteries that she doesn’t use all year round.


This is probably an interim solution. Batteries will continue to get lighter, cheaper, and have higher energy densities, so no one needs to worry. But for now, a small hatchback with a small battery and a small Wankel makes a lot of sense to me.

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