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Mazda Will Unveil Hybrid Rotary Engine This Week

The current MX-30 only offers 160 km of range; it badly needs more Automotive columnist: , Updated:

•    Mazda will introduce its hybrid rotary engine at the Brussels Motor Show this Friday.

•    It's long been known that a range-extender version is planned for the MX-30 SUV.

•    The rotary engine was last used by Mazda in 2012 with the RX-8.

We've known it was in the works for a while now, and now its introduction is imminent. We're referring to Mazda’s promised new plug-in hybrid rotary engine that will equip the MX-30, an SUV currently available only as an all-electric model. 

That's great news, because the current EV has a laughably short range to offer customers. A range of 160 km would have been acceptable 10 years ago, but not in 2023. 

Mazda has confirmed the MX-30 with range extender and rotary engine will be unveiled on Friday, January 13 at the Brussels Motor Show. Obviously, the company is saving the essential information for its presentation, so for now we have little to go on.

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Mazda Rotary - Logo
Photo: Mazda
Mazda Rotary - Logo

The logo you can see has been shown, but it had already been seen in the patent applications for the model. It clearly combines the rotor shape of a rotary engine with the letter "e", a clear indication of the electrified powertrain that will make the vehicle go. Mazda says the MX-30 extended range will be marketed in Europe this spring. 

The company had previously announced a 2023 debut in North America. If nothing changes, we could see it arrive sometime later this year, bu hopefully Mazda will have more to say about that on Friday. 

This new product is interesting for a variety of reasons, not least because it is unique. Plug-in hybrids certainly aren’t unusueal, but none have featured a rotary engine before. Mazda produced its last car with this type of powertrain in 2012 with the RX-8.

Mazda MX-30
Photo: Mazda
Mazda MX-30

We'll also have to see if the new model's output will be the same at 147 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. The bigger question will be what kind of range we can expect. It's believed the battery size of the all-electric MX-30, currently 35.5 kWh, will be trimmed to make room for the fuel tank. If so, a smaller battery will reduce the range available. On the other hand, owners won’t run out out of energy after only 160 km, thanks to the presence of the rotary engine. 

A final range of 80 km would be desirable. 

The other aspect of the new powertrain to watch for is the fuel consumption of the rotary engine. The reason for Mazda dropping this type of engine in the first place was its lack of fuel efficiency. What will happen with electric power? The latter will have to be sufficient to avoid too much use of the rotary engine. 

Stay tuned for more details on Friday.