Last month we reported that Mazda was more or less abandoning its plans to create a range extender vehicle whose generator was going to be a rotary Wankel engine. The plan was to launch this very unique powertrain in the MX-30 sometime in the first half of next year, but according to reports from Japan, that plan is no longer active.
But now Carbuzz is reporting, citing a local Japanese source, that Mazda has applied for several patents and four of these have something to do with the xEV rotary-electric powertrain. The source points out that e-SKYACTIV R-Energy, e-SKYACTIV R-HEV, e-SKYACTIV R-EV plus a new logo design (that incorporates the letters ‘e’ and ‘r’) are clear evidence that perhaps Mazda has not abandoned plans to use the Wankel as part of an electrified powertrain.
The logo clearly hints at this through its design, which is essentially a stylised Wankel engine rotor with the letter ‘e’ inside it. Regarding the others, we know HEV and EV designations refer to hybrids and fully-electric vehicles respectively, but as the source article points out, we really don’t know what R-Energy could stand for.
Gallery: 2021 Mazda MX-30
Another rumour coming out of Japan around a week ago suggested that the rotary engine may, in fact, not be powered by petrol but by hydrogen instead. The Wankel engine is apparently very good at burning hydrogen instead of petrol, especially because it doesn’t create heat spots that in a regular piston engine running on hydrogen may cause unintentional early ignition of the fuel.
Mazda actually has a history of running its rotary engines on hydrogen - it even developed a hydrogen-burning RX-8 coupe way back in 2003, yet the manufacturer has not mentioned it as of late. There are so many conflicting statements and rumours regarding the use of the rotary engine in future Mazdas that we really don’t know what to believe at the moment, but our guess is that it could just be bypassed completely as the Hiroshima-based automaker will move to fully-electric vehicles.