Every few months, it seems a rumor crops up about plans from Mazda to revive the rotary engine. Last November, its CEO said the only way another one could happen is if the project was profitable, and then a month later the automaker showed off the Mazda2 RE Range Extender with a 330cc Wankel engine mounted in the rear. Now, Australian auto site Motoring reports that the PHEV may actually make production in the next-gen Mazda2 sometime after it's initial launch.
Martin Benders, managing director of Mazda in Australia, spoke to Motoring about the company's future with hybrids and basically reiterated what the CEO said last year. The Japanese automaker only plans to offer electrified powertrains in places where they can sell in sufficient numbers to be profitable, like Japan.
Mazda has been playing with the rotary range-extender idea for years. In the RE prototype, the engine was exclusively used to charge the lithium-ion batteries when they were running low, and a 100-horsepower electric motor provided all of the propulsion. It gave the little hatch an estimated range of about 250 miles. The company reportedly took inspiration from its Skyactiv engines to make the Wankel have lower friction and a lighter weight.
The next-generation Mazda2 is rumored to debut during the Paris Motor Show wearing Mazda's Kodo design language. While the hybrid supposedly won't be part of the initial launch lineup, the internal combustion powertrain lineup will consist of gas and diesel versions of Mazda's 1.5-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder. However, the new diesel version is not likely to be available in the US.