U.S. launch of Mazda MX-30 Range Extender with rotary engine confirmed [Update]

The Mazda MX-30 EV U.S. launch occurs this fall, and Mazda dealerships in California get them first. A second Mazda MX-30 Range Extender with a rotary engine is in the works, and Mazda will also launch that variant in the U.S. in due course.

“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. 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 arrive in 2022 to overcome that limitation, a Nikkei report said in December last year.

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 U.S.

Video Source: youtube.com/MazdaEurope

A report from autoevolution suggests that the Mazda MX-30 Range Extender will come with a battery pack smaller than that of the Mazda MX-30 EV. A bigger battery pack would make it too heavy and expensive. So, maybe achieving double the range of the MX-30 EV won’t be possible.

Standard MX-30 EV initially fails to impress Japan

The Mazda MX-30 is off to a quiet start in the Japanese market. Initially, the gasoline mild-hybrid variant has fallen short of the sales target (with just 50 percent met), and according to a Mazda vendor, the freestyle doors are “a significant issue,” Nikkei reported in December.

Opening the split doors in narrow parking spaces is inconvenient, as reported in the financial publication. Moreover, the doors are heavier, and women, particularly those having children, could be giving the MX-30 a thumbs down. The EV adds a low range (and thus range anxiety) to the list of reasons one wouldn’t prefer a Mazda MX-30. However, a fix is coming to address the last issue with the range extender.

Range Extender variant with rotary engine in the making since 2018

The Mazda MX-30 EV 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.

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.”

Why Mazda picked a rotary engine for the MX-30 EV

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 EV’s rotary engine so that the EV experience inside the cabin isn’t affected.

Mazda MX-30 tail lamp studio
The MX-30 rotary engine variant will launch globally in the first half of 2022, and its targeted range (reported) is 400 km (249 miles). Image Source: Mazda

Release Date

The Mazda MX-30 Range Extender with Mazda rotary engine will debut in the first half of 2022, Nikkei reported, and 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.

On July 11, 2021, Automotive News reported rumors about Mazda freezing the MX-30 Plug-in Hybrid EV project. Citing Japan’s Nikkei and Jidosha Shimbun, it said a part of the reason is that the bigger battery it requires makes it too expensive.

On July 13, 2021, a Mazda spokesperson confirmed to CNET (Roadshow) that the company has not delayed the launch of the MX-30 Plug-in Hybrid. The company spokesperson didn’t comment on the rumors, but at least we have a confirmation that the PHEV with a rotary engine is on schedule in the United States.

The Mazda MX-30 Range Extender should come with features similar to those of the MX-30 EV. In the U.S., the latter has been confirmed with 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.

Hybrid Mazda models also getting the rotary engine

Mazda plans to offer the modern-day rotary engine not only in the MX-30 Plug-in Hybrid EV but also hybrid electric vehicles, as per autoevolution. Effectively, Mazda will sell series-hybrid models like Nissan’s e-Power models as well. These cars will use the rotary engine as a generator to charge the battery pack, and the wheels spin using electric power.

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.’

After executing the new electrification strategy, Mazda expects all products to have some level of electrification and 25% of its sales to come from EVs.

Featured image: Mazda