The MX-30 could be U.S. worthy if it has a good range extender.

Way back in early 2016, Mazda filed a patent for a new rotary engine; two years later, Mazda announced that it was, in fact, bringing back the rotary engine but not in the way you’d expect. Then, with the introduction of Mazda’s SkyActiv-X technology, we started to think that the Wankel rotary engine could be feasible once again. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case, but the Rotary is actually coming back – it just won’t live up to the full performance potential it was once destined for.

The Wankel Rotary Engine Could End Up in the Mazda MX-30 EV

Mazda is Officially Considering a Rotary Range Extender for the Mazda MX-30 Exterior
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It was late 2019 when we reported that Mazda was bringing an all-new EV into its lineup at the Tokyo Auto Show and that model – based on the e-TPV 2 prototype and the CX-30 to some extent – turned out to be the MX-30 EV. The problem is that the MX-30 doesn’t have a big battery pack. With 35.5-kWh worth of battery hidden away in an all-new platform, the MX-30 finds itself sitting between the Hyundai Ioniq (28 kWh) and the Nissan Leaf (40 kWh.) At the time, we speculated exactly why we needed the single-rotor rotary engine as a range extender – with 130 miles of range, the MX-30 just isn’t suitable for most people here in the U.S. Hell, the MX-30 even has a door configuration that pays tribute to the Mazda RX-8, so it really fits in the grand scheme of things.

Mazda is Officially Considering a Rotary Range Extender for the Mazda MX-30 Exterior
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Now, a new release from Mazda all but confirms that the very same single-rotor engine\ range extender from the Mazda 2 EV prototype could find its way into the MX-30 as, you guessed it, a range extender.

" "Later, the company developed a prototype Mazda2 EV with a small single-rotor engine used as a range extender. A similar system could find its way onto the Mazda MX-30, a brand new battery-electric crossover SUV arriving at dealerships this year."

As previously mentioned, the MX-30’s 143-horsepower electric motor pulls power from that small battery pack and delivers just 130 miles of range per charge. And, so far, there have been no plans to bring the MX-30 to the United States, but it’s largely believed that’s because it can’t be competitive in a world full of long-range electric vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y, or the Mercedes EQC, for example. If Mazda really does transplant a small rotary into the CX-30, strictly as a range extender, it would kill three birds with one stone – it completely eliminates the issues associated with range anxiety, and it eliminates the burden of having to spend significant amounts of time at charging stations on longer trips.

Long Live Mazda's Wankel Rotary Engine!!!
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As an example of how the rotary works as a range extender, we can look back to that Mazda2 prototype. The single-rotor engine in that car displaced just 0.333 liters and produced just 38 horsepower (28 kW.) It only weighed 220 pounds and was paired with a small 2.3-gallon gas tank. Mazda estimated that it could double the range of the prototypes 20-kWh battery, so pair a slightly larger gas tank with a 0.5-liter rotary, for example, and the MX-30 could easily be good for 300 miles or more on a single charge and light fill-up. Emissions would be slim, and almost everyone would be happy. Unfortunately, the world has evolved to a point that we’ll probably never see a Wankel rotary used in a true performance application again, but at least it lives on in one way or another. Now, we just have to wait and see if Mazda will really use it as a range extender and if the MX-30 will actually come to the U.S.

Long Live Mazda's Wankel Rotary Engine!!!
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2010 RX-8 6-Speed Manual 6-Speed Sport Automatic
Engine type 1.3-liter 2-rotor rotary 1.3-liter 2-rotor rotary
Horsepower 232 hp @ 8500 rpm 212 hp @ 7500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 159 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm 159 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm
Redline 9000 rpm 7500 rpm
Displacement (cc) 1308 1308
Compression ratio 10.0 : 1 10.0 : 1
Fuel system Multi-port electronic fuel injection Multi-port electronic fuel injection
Required fuel Premium unleaded (91 octane) Premium unleaded (91 octane)
Ignition system Electronic 4-coil with iridium-tipped multielectrode spark plugs Electronic 4-coil with iridium-tipped multielectrode spark plugs
Induction system 6 side intake ports with 3-stage variable induction system (VIS) and variable fresh air duct 6 side intake ports with 3-stage variable induction system (VIS) and variable fresh air duct
Exhaust Stainless steel with low-backpressure main muffler Stainless steel
Rotor housing Aluminum with chrome-steel liner Aluminum with chrome-steel liner
Side housing Cast iron Cast iron
Emission control type (Fed/Cal) Tier2 Bin5 / ULEV II Tier2 Bin5 / ULEV II
Type Front-midship engine rear-wheel drive (RWD) with powerplant frame Front-midship engine rear-wheel drive (RWD) with powerplant frame
Transmission Close-ratio 6-speed manual with short-throw direct linkage shifter 6-speed electronically-controlled Sport AT with paddle shifters and Adaptive Shift Logic

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Long Live Mazda’s Wankel Rotary Engine!!!

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert -
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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