It’s been a bumpy road for emergent Mazda engine technology of late. The Skyactiv-D turbodiesel struggled through a long and tortured emissions certification process, only to emerge as overpriced and underperforming. The brand’s technologically interesting Skyactiv-X spark-assisted compression ignition engine, despite initial talk of an application in the United States, is no longer expected to cross the pond—at least in its current state. And now the exciting prospect of the return of the legendary Mazda rotary engine, a storied design utilized in a new and futuristic way, is clouded—at best.
That’s per an Automotive News report that, at a minimum, implies the rotary engine is on hold. It was due to be used as a small range extender in the MX-30 electric SUV. As recently as April, Mazda had confirmed the rotary range extender was coming in the near future to the U.S. But now, a Mazda spokesperson in Japan told AN “the timing of its introduction is undecided. “
Behind that ambiguous statement is more bad news. Japanese newspapers, according to AN, are reporting that the range extender has been officially scrapped.
If it’s true that the rotary engine has been effectively canceled in the near term, it’d be a blow to enthusiasts who were eagerly anticipating the return of an engine configuration that has a long history at Mazda. The rotary was developed in Germany but plagued with troubling teething issues. Mazda licensed the technology and with ingenuity and a lot of effort, solved many of the engine’s problems, introducing the rotary in the 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S.
While Mazda hasn’t sold a rotary in the U.S. in 10 years (the last vehicle with one was the long-gone RX-8), the idea of Mazda repurposing this special engine design to serve as a generator for the battery pack of its electric SUV was an exciting prospect.
Even so, the MX-30 itself will live on. U.S.-spec MX-30s are due to feature a front-mounted electric motor that produces 144-hp and 200 lb-ft of torque, with energy supplied by way of a 35.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
We expect Mazda to clarify its rotary engine plans. When it does, we’ll let you know. Until then, since we’re fond of the unusual engine that’s so closely tied to Mazda’s performance heritage, we’ll remain hopeful that it once again finds its way into a U.S.-bound Mazda product … eventually.
Source: Read Full Article