Mazda, with an important trump card up its sleeve, is finally ready to enter the electric vehicle market. The Japanese plan to create an electric car with an additional rotary engine (Wankel engine). This particular type of motor is now hard to find anywhere, but it still has its fans. Will this be enough to compete with such mastodons of the market as Tesla?
Mazda’s Special Way
The Japanese automaker Mazda has always played a special role in the automotive industry. More recently, the Japanese announced the release of the DiesOtto engine, a four-cylinder engine that should combine the low fuel consumption of a diesel engine with the cleanliness of a gasoline engine. In the field of electric cars, Mazda also initially followed its own exclusive path, showing itself rather as an opponent of the “electro-revolution”, which very reluctantly decided, together with Toyota, to turn to a new type of engine.
And here again, an unexpected announcement came from the city of Fuhu: Mazda is going to produce electric cars with an integrated rotary engine, and it should be noted that the company is the only one of the famous automakers who uses this type of engine from time to time. With the help of such an alternative motor, the mileage of electric vehicles should increase significantly.
Why are rotary engines almost extinct?
In contrast to the commonly used translational piston engines, the rotating pistons in a rotary engine directly convert the energy of their movement into rotational motion. The advantages of the Wankel engine, named after its inventor Felix Wankel, are primarily reduced energy losses and compact dimensions.
Despite this, this type of engine is used only occasionally in some Mazda models, other automakers have long declared it dead. The reason for this is not only the relatively high operating costs, but also the higher oil consumption due to the high level of heat generation. Mazda itself has not used this engine since 2012, when RX-8 sales figures plummeted due to colossal oil consumption.
But the Wankel engine can still be an alternative
Despite the shortcomings, Mazda still wants to dust off the rotary engine in the near future and start installing it in new electric cars. Mitsuo Hitomi, head of engine development, told Automotive News that the company sees the rotary motor, which has the added benefit of low vibration, as a powerful yet compact alternative to current electric motors.
The first cars with a Wankel engine and an electric motor will be launched by Mazda in collaboration with Toyota in 2019. But the rotary engine will be able to celebrate its return not only in electric cars. According to Mazda developers, the use of such a motor is not excluded in traditional and hybrid cars.
A photo: manufacturing companies