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Mazda considers rotary range extender for MX-30

Helping hand: A rotary engine range extender first seen on the Mazda2 EV prototype (left) is likely to be used to increase the driving range of the MX-30 crossover EV (below).

Mazda MX-30 EV’s modest range could be increased with rotary range extender

8 Apr 2020

MAZDA has indicated its upcoming MX-30 crossover EV will see the return of the rotary engine for the brand, albeit in the form of a range-extender to support the battery-electric powertrain.


In a press release dedicated to the RX-7 sportscar, Mazda said a similar system to the Mazda2 EV range extender prototype released early last decade was being considered for the MX-30.


Mazda has previously stated it would look to bring the rotary engine back as a range extender, when it announced in 2018 that it would aim to electrify all internal-combustion engines – equating for 95 per cent of its portfolio – by 2030.


At the time Mazda said the range extender would be powered by a “small, lightweight and exceptionally quiet rotary engine” capable of running on either unleaded petrol and LPG.


The small packaging and strong engine output make it a suitable engine to serve as a range extender, which would help improve the mediocre 200km range of the EV-only MX-30.


Sporting a 35.5kWh battery pack, the MX-30’s driving range is less than half of the claimed range of other direct competitors such as the Hyundai Kona Electric.


When Mazda fitted a 28kW, 330cc rotary engine to the Mazda2 EV prototype in 2013, the range of the vehicle essentially doubled to 400km, with Mazda saying it could even be tripled if the fuel tank for the range extender was increased from 10 litres to 20L.


The MX-30 set for release in Europe will be capable of a 106kW output, with Mazda Australia currently evaluating the business case to bring it here.


Given its small EV-only range and Australia’s wide-open spaces, the range-extender could be the answer to ensuring the MX-30’s success Down Under.


Speaking to GoAuto last month, Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said the brand was looking closely at bringing the EV to local showrooms.


“We’re looking at MX-30 not for a volume opportunity but to be part of the electrification conversation and also it would give us the opportunity to train some of our dealers, do all the infrastructure and that kind of stuff,” he said.


The MX-30 has been confirmed for the European market, but has so far been ruled out for North America.


Mazda may have even given a cheeky hint as to the eventual fitment of a rotary range extender with the MX-30’s design, which features rear-hinged ‘suicide’ rear doors – the first Mazda model to feature the design quirk since the rotary-powered RX-8 sportscar, first sold in 2003.


BMW has previously offered a range-extender variant on its i3 electric city hatch, which in 94Ah guise increased range from 240km in the BEV version to 370km with the range extender, which employed the assistance of a 650cc petrol engine.

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