Rotary-powered Mazda MX-30 R-EV goes into production

The innovative and unique plug-in hybrid has a pure-electric range of 53 miles, before the rotary engine takes over to power the battery

Mazda has commenced production of its upcoming new innovative and unique plug-in hybrid MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV featuring a  rotary engine generator that will power the battery for a no-emissions drive, with a pure-EV range of 53 miles (85 km).

The model will be manufactured in the Japanese automaker’s Ujina Plant No. 1 in Hiroshima plant, set to be launched in the UK market this autumn.

It’s the first time in 11 years that Mazda will be launching a car with a rotary engine since the Mazda RX-8 was discontinued in June 2012, having more than half a century’s experience in producing these sorts of engines and cumulatively producing over 1.99 million rotary engine vehicles.

The MX-30 R-EV is the new derivative of the all-electric sporty coupé-crossover MX-30, which was well-liked on for its fun driving experience and quirky design, despite having a couple of flaws like limited range, and cramped rear seats. And yes, the ‘unconventional’ rear doors.

> Review: Mazda MX-30

The MX-30 R-EV takes cues from its cousin, keeping the quirky design and the retro doors, but comes with a big twist under the hood.

The car is expected to provide an interesting alternative to the contemporary EVs, usually either all-electric BEVs (battery EVs), running entirely on charge and battery power, the PHEVs, or plug-in hybrid EVs, which can be charged to run on battery for a while before the internal combustion engine takes over, or the HEVs, or hybrids, in which the battery only provides enough power for driving the car at slower speeds.

In the new MX-30 R-EV (R presumably standing for rotary), the compact, lightweight internal combustion engine will drive a generator that either charges the battery or provides additional power if needed. But the vehicle is always driven by the electric motor, essentially emitting no fumes.

Mazda going all-in on the e-Skyactiv branding for its rotary engine

On to the specs then, MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV (the name’s a handful, we’ll just call it MX-30 R-EV for simplicity) combines a 17.8kWh battery and 830cc rotary engine generator to deliver a shorter EV range of 53 miles, but eases range anxiety with its petrol-powered capability and still delivers a WLTP CO2 output of 21g/km.

The Japanese manufacturer says that it “embodies Mazda’s multi-solution approach to move towards carbon neutrality” and is “the ideal vehicle for customers who would like to drive electrically most of the time and travel longer distances occasionally without range anxiety”.

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The rotary engine is placed neatly alongside the generator and high-output motor in the engine bay. The combination of the battery and 50-litre fuel tank creates a unique series plug-in hybrid with a flexible total range of over 373 miles, while a WLTP CO2 output of just 21g/km ensures class-leading environmental performance.

The MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV features three driving modes: Normal, EV and Charge, however, the choice of mode does not affect maximum vehicle speed. Normal mode delivers electric drive as long as there’s enough battery charge.

If more power is required than the battery level can deliver — for those rare instances of accelerating on UK roads — the rotary engine generator will activate based on the degree of accelerator opening and supply the battery with more power.

Drivers can turn EV mode on when they want to stay in electric drive for as long as possible. This mode will ensure the vehicle uses electric drive exclusively until the battery is completely drained.

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But also, if you need to accelerate suddenly and purposefully depresses the accelerator pedal significantly beyond a certain point (similar to the ‘kickdown’ switch function on automatic transmission cars), the rotary engine will activate and generate the power needed for the car to accelerate as powerfully as possible.

MX-30 R-EV’s mode selection switch next to the transmission

The MX-30 R-EV’s high output 122kw/166ps electric motor can produce up to 260Nm of torque, while the new R-EV retains the same relaxed, accurate and engaging driving experience as the pure-electric MX-30.

Jeremy Thomson, Managing Director, Mazda Motors UK, said: “I’m really excited about the new MX-30 R-EV joining our electrified line-up in the UK this autumn. A great example of Mazda’s challenger spirit, thanks to its unique technological approach, it’s a car that’s the perfect solution for customers who want an electric car for everyday usage but the flexibility to undertake longer journeys without the reliance on charging infrastructure.”

According to Mazda, the car can be charged via a three-phase AC charger in around 50 minutes, while DC rapid charging can be completed within an estimated 25 minutes.

Order books for the Mazda MX-30 R-EV are open, with prices starting at £31,250, with the limited model 400 Edition R versions going up to £37,950.

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