Rotary drives an electric renaissance

Riley Riley

The rotary engine is not dead, not yet.

Mazda has revealed plans to accelerate research and development of rotary engines (RE) that will be adapted to play part in the new electrified era.

The ‘RE Development Group’ has been reinstated in the Powertrain Technology Development Department of Powertrain Development Division as of February 1, 2024.

The Group will continue to evolve RE used as generators and will conduct research and development in areas such as regulatory compliance in major markets as well as the application of carbon-neutral fuels.

The rotary engine is an engine with a unique structure that generates power by rotating a triangular rotor.

Mazda first installed a rotary engine in the Cosmo Sport introduced in 1967 and for many years since then, Mazda has been working to improve performance in terms of output, exhaust-gas purification, fuel economy, and durability as the only automobile manufacturer to mass-produce rotary engines.

Last used in the RX-8 sports car the company resumed mass production of vehicles with rotary engines in June, 2023.

The MX-30 e-SKYACTIV R-EV is the 12th model to incorporate a rotary engine and has been introduced in Japan and Europe.

It’s a special version of the MX-30 hybrid that incorporate a rotary engine instead of the four cylinder engine in the current hybrid.

It’s also a series hybrid like Nissan’s e-Power hybrid in that the rotary does not power the wheels, but is used to generate electricity for the electric motor which turns the wheels.

With drive to the front wheels, the electric motor develops 125kW of power and 260Nm of torque, and is powered by a 17.8 kWh battery pack.

It has an electric-only range of 85km.

With a 50-litre fuel tank the 830cc 55kW/116Nm range extender rotary gives it a maximum range of more than 600km.

Mazda’s Chief Technology Officer Ichiro Hirose described the rotary engine as a special symbol of our ‘challenger spirit’ in Mazda’s history.

“We are deeply grateful to all those who have supported RE to date, and are pleased to announce the rebirth of the organisation that develops RE, the engine that has been loved by customers around the world,” he said.

“For the last six years, RE engineers have been part of the engine development organisation where they engaged in the development of state-of-the-art internal combustion engine functions as well as the ultimate improvement in efficiency.

“Those engineers have broadened their perspective beyond the boundaries of engine systems, and have trained themselves to master the ‘Model-Based Development,’ which is one of Mazda’s engineering strengths.

“This time, 36 engineers will gather in one group to make a breakthrough in the research and development of RE.

“In the age of electrification and in a carbon-neutral society, we promise to keep delivering attractive cars that excite customers with our ‘challenger spirit’.”


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