Mazda revives rotary engine in Mazda2 hybrid

Article by Anita Panait, on December 23, 2013

Mazda Motor Corp.’s famous rotary engine is back, now in the form of a range extender for a prototype of a Mazda hybrid hatchback. The hybrid prototype operates as an electric vehicle, with an electric motor powering the wheels. When the charge of the lithium ion battery goes low, a gasoline-powered 0.33-liter rotary engine placed in the rear will generate power to recharge it.

This powertrain – called by Mazda as RE Range Extender, short for Rotary Engine Range Extender -- is similar to the one installed in the Chevrolet Volt, which is also an extended-range hybrid. The unveiling of the prototype in Yokohama came weeks after chief executive Masamichi Kogai said that they have no plans for a production car powered by rotary engines.

Kogai remarked then that sales would have to reach 100,000 units annually to justify a commercial revival of the rotary engine. He, however, admitted that Mazda engineers continued to work on the rotary engine technology – resulting to modified range-extender Mazda2. The Mazda2 hybrid might help the carmaker comply with California’s strict zero emissions requirements, according to Takashi Suzuki, program manager for advanced powertrain development.

He remarked that while California requires electric vehicles, the state is also expected to give credit for certain hybrids. Mazda used a smaller version of the rotary engine for the Mazda2, allowing the car to maximize fuel economy; run quietly with little vibration; and use different varieties of fuel. The compact version could also be fitted with many different body shapes.

With the Mazda 2, Mazda developed the athleticism that is innate to the Mazda design DNA in the quest for audacious and multiple expression of motion. The basic type of the all-new Mazda 2 is described by a mixture of dynamic performance, simplicity, and sportiness that leaves a compelling visual impression.

While competitors are creating compact vehicles with an emphasis on a boxy body form to emphasize functionality, Mazda shortened the body overhangs and cut down the corners to the greatest extent possible as a means to give a form that is both compact and sporty, delivers a feeling of stability and motivates one to have confidence. By meticulously manufacturing a base form and afterward giving it dynamic character lines suitable for a B-car, Mazda made a design that is highly distinguishable, yet timeless.

Concentrated

Mazda sought after a concentrated, rigid form for the body as a virtue in itself, not just to lessen the vehicle’s body proportion. This ingenious background was invaluable in efforts to accomplish peak dynamic performance within the all-new Mazda 2's compact body. As it were, the Mazda 2 owns the essence of Mazda's spirit of compact, athletic dynamic performance - "Zoom-Zoom Concentrated."

Exterior Design Theme: "Coordinated Movement"

In search for a solid shape and a lavishly dramatic exterior design, Mazda built up an exterior design theme of "coordinated development". In accordance with this theme, the design group fused the visual motions made by the vehicle’s silhouette, its body lines, and the way in which patterns of light played on the body to produce dynamic, multifaceted expressions rarely seen on a B-car.

These expressions radiate a potent energy that makes the all-new Mazda 2 look like it is moving while motionless. Vital exterior design components include: a sporty wedge shape that delivers a strong feeling of forward movement; a profoundly etched frame in which the body is drawn inward fore and toward the back of the A-pillars; and distinguishable character lines that expand from the front fender arches to the body shoulders.

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Topics: mazda, mazda2, hybrid

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