Recently published patent filings in Japan are pointing to the return of Mazda’s rotary engine. What’s more, the drawings seem to indicate that the Wankel-derived engine is set to make its return in a form that green-car enthusiasts have been dreaming of for years: as a hybrid range-extender.
As translated by the guys at Motor1 in the UK, the patent filings describe a front-mounted combustion engine, as well as a single electric motor turning the rear wheels while each front wheel gets an electric motor of its own. These electric motors are turned by a capacitor system, which results in an electric, all-wheel drive vehicle that Mazda believes could be significantly lighter than more traditional gas/electric hybrid layouts.
If that sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because a lightweight hybrid powertrain was also discussed at the launch of the Mazda Vision concept car from 2018 — and the production version of that car is expected to debut as a 2021 model year replacement for the aging Mazda 6 sedan later this year.
The weight savings Mazda is expecting for its rotary engine hybrid stem, primarily from the fact that the system relies on a 3.5 kWh battery — rather than something like the 90 kWh battery in a Tesla, for example — to supply electric power to the wheels. The capacitor under the hood is charged by the internal combustion engine (ICE) and regenerative braking, and supplies sufficient power to the rear electric motor for most situations. When the driver demands more power, though, the charged battery will “juice” the front motors for greater acceleration, then get recharged by the ICE, and braking as well, during the normal course of driving.
It’s neat, clever technology — but one can’t help but wonder if it’s too little, too late. In a world where Tesla can offer a Cybertruck for more or less $40,000, that kinda feels like it’s a step ahead of this unreleased Mazda already, you know?
You can check out the related patent drawings below, then let us know what you think of Mazda’s rotary-powered and range-extended vision of the automotive future in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Mazda Rotary Engine Hybrid Patent Drawings
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