Update: ‘Release date’ and ‘2X Range of the MX-30 EV’ sections updated.
The Mazda MX-30 Range Extender with a rotary engine is in the works, and Mazda will launch the variant in the U.S. in 2022. Here’s everything we’ve learned about the vehicle.
Variant confirmed for the U.S. back in April 2021
“The battery-powered MX-30 will begin the introduction of additional electrified models, including a series plug-in hybrid with a rotary generator for MX-30, a plug-in hybrid for our new large platform,” Jeff Guyton, President & CEO, Mazda (North America), said in an announcement about the company’s electrification strategy in the region on April 14, 2021. Guyton added that the new Mazda rotary engine for serving as a generator in the MX-30 EV would operate nearly silently, which means that the driving experience will be very similar to that of the standard MX-30 EV – calm and smooth.
We saw this coming as Guyton had confirmed the MX-30 range extender for the U.S. market in December 2020, while speaking to thedetroitbureau. He said that the range extender variant (with the higher travel range) would be “more appropriate” for American buyers.
2X Range of the MX-30 EV
The Mazda MX-30 EV’s 200-km (124-mile) range in the WLTP cycle could be driving a lot of potential customers away from showrooms. However, the Mazda MX-30 Range Extender with the company’s rotary engine will overcome that limitation, a Nikkei report said in December 2020. A key advantage of this engine is that the energy generated by the combustion unit powers the generator that charges the battery. It’s not used to propel the wheels. Naturally, it does burn fuel, but given the correct usage pattern, fuel savings are significantly higher than ICE-powered cars, but lower than BEVs.
Video Source: youtube.com/MazdaEurope
Suppliers involved in the Mazda MX-30 Range Extender’s development told Nikkei that Mazda wants to double the range of the MX-30 EV to 400 km (249 miles) with the assistance of the rotary engine. The MX-30 EV has a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that feeds an electric motor at the front axle. The motor generates 107 kW (144 horsepower) and 271 Nm (200 pound-feet) of torque. The battery pack can be fast-charged to 80% SoC in approximately 36 minutes. Mazda is tying up with ChargePoint to offer charging solutions to customers in the United States.
Range Extender variant with rotary engine in the making since 2018
The Mazda MX-30 Range Extender was confirmed back in late-2018. Mazda talked about the highly anticipated return of its rotary engine, but not in a supercar or a halo model:
Mazda will develop two battery electric vehicles, one powered solely by battery and another that pairs a battery with a newly developed range extender powered by Mazda’s small, lightweight and exceptionally quiet rotary engine. The range extender will recharge the battery when necessary to effectively increase the vehicle’s driving range.Mazda announcing the electrification & connectivity strategy on Oct. 2, 2018
In the book “Mazda Centenary – 100 years of a Japanese Success Story,” Mazda said it would open the next chapter of the rotary engine with an EV
As a range extender for electric vehicles, the rotary engine will continue to carry the torch for this (never stop challenging) spirit into the future.Excerpt from the Mazda Centenary – 100 years of a Japanese Success Story
Revealing that the MX-30 will mark the return of the rotary engine, Mazda said that “the MX-30 will be the car heralding the renaissance of rotary engines in Mazda cars.”
According to the Wheels report dated March 2, 2022, there are more reasons that justify a diverse use of rotary engines. Mazda Australia’s marketing director, Alastair Doak, told Wheels that more research was needed into plug-in hybrids as they were famous in Europe, outselling diesel cars, hinting at the possibility of a PHEV Mazda with the rotary engine.
Why Mazda picked a rotary engine for the MX-30
Mazda is synonymous with the rotary engine but has other reasons for employing it in the MX-30 Range Extender. It is compact and significantly lighter than a comparable reciprocating engine and can easily be integrated into an EV. The “unparalleled smoothness and quietness of operation” because of its unique working principle would ensure that the fitment of a gas-powered engine doesn’t take away the calm and comfortable EV driving experience from the MX-30 EV.
Mazda’s rotary engine technology is known for its benefits like small size, lightweight, high power, and quietness. In 2013, Mazda had demonstrated a Mazda Demio EV (Mazda2 EV) with a rotary engine range extender that could deliver a range of 400 km (249 miles).
With no reciprocating mass such as vales or pistons, unlike in a traditional engine, a rotary engine can allow smoother power delivery and operate at high revs. With fewer moving parts, the size and weight of the engine are low. According to a report from designnews.com, Mazda has developed mufflers to reduce the sound emitted by the MX-30’s rotary engine to preserve the experience in the cabin.
The Mazda MX-30 Range Extender with Mazda rotary engine will debut in the first half of 2022. It could be a selling point that drives Mazda fans back into the brand’s dealer showrooms. In the U.S., it would be launched as the 2023 Mazda MX-30 Plug-In Hybrid EV. In Australia, the range extender is expected to arrive later this year (2022), Mazda Australia’s marketing director Alastair Doak told CarExpert on March 4, 2022. However, he pointed out that supply-chain challenges may push the MX-30 range-extender’s debut to 2023.
Mazda has listed the MX-30 Plug-in Hybrid EV on its U.S. website to keep prospective customers engaged till the launch. The company offers a provision to subscribe to updates about the upcoming model on the website.
A disclaimer on the website indicates that Mazda won’t import big lots of the MX-30 Plug-in Hybrid EV to the U.S. in the first year of sales. “Limited availability expected (in) 2022,” the disclaimer says. The company hasn’t revealed what’s keeping it from going big stateside when it’s finally able to offer a practical MX-30 EV. Maybe it’s limited production because of the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage, but we hope the plug-in hybrid version does not get the same treatment as a compliance car.
The Mazda MX-30 Range Extender should come with features similar to those of the EV. In the U.S., the latter gets the Mazda Connect infotainment system, a 7-inch touchscreen climate control panel, and Mazda Connected Services that include remote locking, remote climate control, remote battery status check, and more.
Mazda electrification strategy
Contrary to what the name of Mazda’s long-term vision for technology development – Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 – suggests, it is slow on electrification, especially compared to big players like Volkswagen, GM, or Ford.
Between 2022 and 2025, Mazda plans to introduce five HEVs, five PHEVs, and three EVs based on a new ‘SKYACTIV Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture’ platform. Between 2025 and 2030, the company will unveil several EVs based on a new bespoke EV platform called ‘SKYACTIV EV Scalable Architecture.’ The Japanese automaker expects to finish electrifying all models by the end of the decade.
Mazda plans to unveil five new SUVs, namely Mazda CX-50, Mazda CX-60, Mazda CX-70, Mazda CX-80, and Mazda CX-90, by 2023. Except for the CX-50, all vehicles will come with a selection of electrified powertrains.
In Europe, Mazda will primarily rely on straight-four gasoline engines with a motor drive unit running on energy sourced from a rechargeable battery pack. In addition to plug-in hybrid technology, the company will use a 48-volt mild-hybrid system on straight-six new-generation Skyactiv-X gasoline and Skyactiv-D diesel engines. In the U.S. and Canada, the company will offer plug-in hybrid powertrains, but it won’t use mild-hybrid technology.
|Future Mazda Model||Type||Main Markets|
|Mazda CX-60||Two-row||Europe & Japan|
|Mazda CX-70||Wide-body, two-row||North America|
|Mazda CX-80||Three-row||Europe & Japan|
|Mazda CX-90||Wide-body, three-row||North America|
After executing the new electrification strategy, Mazda expects all products to have some level of electrification and 25% of sales to come from EVs.
Featured image: Mazda