The rotary engine is a love-it-or-hate-it piece of automotive engineering. It is lightweight but powerful for its size, and its lack of massive reciprocating pistons allows it to rev smoothly. However, one of its design flaws is its rather high gas consumption. In theory, it is not the ideal solution for applications that prioritize fuel efficiency.
But Mazda is stubbornly sticking to Doritos-shaped ways. After all, this is the very engine type that made the Hiroshima-based automaker a force to be reckoned with. The company has repeatedly teased the return of the rotary in some shape or form in recent years. And today, it has just started production of the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV.
This mouthful of a name is simply a version of Mazda’s pioneering MX-30 that’s equipped with a Wankel engine. But instead of directly driving the wheels like with the RX-7, this powerplant will simply be a range extender. On battery power alone, the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV will do 85km. But the company claims that firing up the rotary will boost that number to around 600km.
Aside from making rotary-engine cars once again, Mazda is quite proud of the changes it has made to the production process. For one, it now uses a special paint gun to precisely spray the MX-30’s distinctive multi-tone livery, therefore reducing wasted paint. In addition, the new paints require lower temperatures to dry, which cuts down the factory’s energy consumption. Lastly, the Hiroshima plant’s solar panels supply clean electricity to the facility and charge MX-30 units coming off the production line.
Europe will be the first market to receive the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV.