New Mazda electric car due in 2019 with rotary range-extender tech

Mazda is gearing up to introduce a new bespoke electric car for 2019, and the possible return of the rotary engine as a range extender unit.

Insiders at Mazda have said that they are targeting a launch date of 2019 for its new EV. It will use Mazda’s latest design language, set out by the new CX-5 and RX Vision concept.

Speaking to Auto Express at the recent Geneva Motor Show, European R&D boss Matsuhiro Tanaka said: “[A fully electric car] is one of the possibilities we are examining. A small car is best for an EV because bigger vehicles get too heavy with bigger batteries, and that doesn’t make sense for Mazda.”

While Tanaka didn’t go into detail on the new model, it’s expected to be a rival for the Renault ZOE, although the car isn’t yet confirmed for European markets. Asked about the platform for the EV, Tanaka stated that it would need to be “a new design, because even though our strategy with it is the same [as our current range], the technology is different. For example, there will be lighter materials”.

He added: “If we put in heavy batteries, we need to do the opposite with the total weight. We are going to develop a new material technology in the future [to deal with this].” 

From 2021, Mazda will expand its range of electrified vehicles with a line-up of plug-in hybrid models. Tanaka said: “We are developing a concept with hybrid power. We already introduced a hybrid [Mazda 3] in Japan, so we have the technology.” 

The Japan-only Mazda 3 hybrid uses tech from Toyota but future hybrids from the brand are likely to come as part of this partnership. It’s possible that we’ll see a return to Mazda’s staple rotary engine in a range-extending capacity, providing power to charge a battery, rather than driving the wheels.

Asked about the rumoured electrified rotary powerplant, Tanaka said: “Something like that was in existence, but I can’t go into detail. Both performance and economy are possible with rotary. It’s very stable and quiet at standard revolutions, so some potential exists for that.”

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