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Rotary Engine Resurrected in Mazda2 Extended-Range Electric Vehicle Concept

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Mazda2 Plug-In Concept is an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle
Mazda2 Plug-In Concept is an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle

When it comes to fuel economy, smaller vehicles, such as the Mazda2, take high honors, usually sacrificing performance. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, can do both fuel economy and performance without skipping a beat.

Then, of course, the question comes up, what if you combined a small conventional vehicle body and an electric vehicle powertrain? The idea seems to have worked well for some small vehicles, such as the compact Fiat 500e and the Smart ForTwo ED [Electric Drive]. The Mazda2 Plug-In looks like another great idea in the same line of thought, and Mazda’s even added something special to the little concept.

First, like every other compact electric vehicle, a lithium-ion battery pack runs a powerful little electric motor at the front wheels. The motor is good for about 100hp and 200lb•ft of torque, which should make for a fairly spunky ride in such a tiny vehicle. The battery is good for about 125mi, before the range-extender kicks in. That’s right, the Mazda2 Plug-In is an extended-range electric vehicle, and what engine better to play the part of range-extender than the rotary engine?

The Mazda2 Plug-In’s range extender is a tiny 0.3ℓ Wankel rotary engine [WRE], of Mazda RX fame, which takes up almost no space in the already cramped confines of the Mazda2. The WRE, in the Mazda RX, made for some great acceleration and high-revving performance, very popular on the track. On the other hand, in typical automotive applications, it is nowhere near clean enough to keep up with emissions standards, not very popular with the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]. As an electric vehicle range-extender, however, it can be tuned for a specific rpm and load to keep it clean, running about 45mpg, in the Mazda2 Plug-In.

It’s just a concept for now, but who wouldn’t want a spritely Mazda2 electric vehicle?

Image © Blackball Media

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