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There's Still Hope for the Mazda Rotary Engine

Rumor / 57 Comments

But it's likely not at all what you were expecting.

Mazda has made it pretty clear that the rotary engine as we know it isn't coming back. That's not say, however, that rotary technology can't be utilized in some other way. While the chances of a new rotary-powered RX-8 aren't good, Mazda has just announced a new use for its powerful, though thirsty engine type: in an extended range hybrid Mazda2. The Japanese automaker has just revealed a new Mazda2 prototype called the RE Range Extender, or Rotary Engine Range Extender.

Here's how it works: the car features a 75-kilowatt electric motor that drives the front wheels, and a lithium-ion battery is tucked away under the floorboards. In the rear is a gasoline-powered rotary engine that recharges the battery. If this setup sounds familiar to you, it's because it's basically how the Chevrolet Volt works, with the exception of a conventional engine in place of the rotary. Mazda claims that with a 2.6 gallon fuel tank, the RE Range Extender has a nearly 250-mile range. There are currently no production plans for this powertrain setup, but Mazda's new CEO stated that his company was "the first and only manufacturer to commercialize the rotary engine. In that respect, we have some responsibility."

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