Mazda is repurposing its rotary engine for the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV

Japanese automotive giant announced mass production of the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV rotary engine in Hiroshima on Thursday, as part of its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050.
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Mazda is transforming the rotary engine to meet environmental goals
Mazda is transforming the rotary engine to meet environmental goals

Press Kit / Mazda 

Mazda’s MX-30 is a small electric SUV made with a rotary engine.

In the past, the engine presented limitations in terms of how far it could drive, due to smaller batteries. The SUV could only go about 100 miles on a full charge according to an EPA estimate.

Now, after 11 years, rotary engines are making a comeback, with the battery range issues addressed. They have been repurposed to manufacture an engine that can provide a total range of 373 miles, with a portion of that range solely powered by electricity.

Mazda is also introducing a new multi-tone painting technology for the MX-30 design. The technology requires a special spray gun to apply paint precisely where needed and reduce paint loss. 

Similar to a traditional piston engine, rotary engines have four functions including intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust.

The difference is that rotary engines use reciprocating motion and are internal combustion engines with lower thermodynamic efficiency and low compression ratio.

Rotary Engineering

Watch how a rotary engine works:

Redex explains that rotary engines (also known as Wankle engines) may have more benefits than piston engines because of their smooth and quiet operations, fewer moving parts, and slower internal movements. 

These features are associated with improved reliability, more affordable maintenance, reduced strain on parts, and enhanced long-term reliability respectively. 

However, rotary engines continue to be rare in modern cars due to economic barriers. The engines were last seen in the 1920s, after that, all manufacturing moved to piston engines as they were cheaper to produce.

Despite high expenditure, the Japanese company, Mazda has been experimenting with rotary-engined cars since the 1960s with its first successful model, Cosmo Coupé in 1967, according to Redex. “It’s developed a handful of other rotary-powered models, including the RX-7, RX-8, and a rotary version of the Mazda 2, launched back in 2013.”

Mazda says that the company started mass production of the European model of the MAZDA MX-30 e-SKYACTIV R-EV at Ujina Plant No. 1 in Hiroshima City. 

“This is Mazda's first mass-production rotary engine vehicle in 11 years since the Mazda RX-8 was discontinued in June 2012. Mazda has cumulatively produced over 1.99 million rotary-engine vehicles,” Mazda said.

Mazda is repurposing its rotary engine for the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV
MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV rotary engine to be mass produced in Japan for European market

Reaching Carbon-neutrality

In addition to solving battery limitations, the MX-30 is equipped to achieve carbon neutrality with a goal of making its entire supply chain carbon-neutral by 2050.

The organization emphasizes that  Environmentally-conscious materials were intentionally adopted in the design process. They used cork and fabrics made from recycled materials to create a comfortable interior.

“Mazda keeps striving to reduce our environmental footprint throughout the production process,” said the company.

The MX-30 utilizes the rotary engine to generate electricity and replenish batteries.

Jalopnik notes that the new improvement allows the engine to run at an ideal load speed at all times for optimal efficiency. 

“Efficiency isn’t a trait anyone’s ever ascribed to the rotary — fuel efficiency, at least — so that’s a good place to start,” Jalopnik said. 

Mazda's new multi-tone paint technology is also equipped to harden at a lower temperature of around 80°C, eliminating the need for higher temperatures of 140°C for drying.

This change will significantly reduce energy consumption compared to the traditional painting process 

Additionally, Jalopnik reports that Mazda still hasn’t offered to sell in the United States despite having a base in California. 

Jeff Guyton, Mazda North America CEO said, “MX-30 has been selling quite well in Europe, and we’re going to prioritize MX-30 rotary for Europe and for Japan where the product is more suited to the roads and those customers. It doesn’t mean it’s a no for the U.S.”

Watch how to build a rotary engine from the ground up:

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