skyactiv-x rotary engine

Japanese carmaker Mazda has let the public in on its ‘unique’ approach to addressing the goal of reducing tailpipe emissions from its vehicles — and it involves making use of an electrified and low emission rotary engine.

As part of its ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030’ long-term programme towards electrification that will see it play out its commitment to 50% reduction of 2010 levels of CO2 by 2030 and 90% by 2050, the automaker says its approach recognises the fact that for the time being, even 100% battery electric vehicles will still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, depending on the means of local electric power generation.

Therefore, it believes that the best way to reduce CO2 emissions is to focus largely on improving the efficiency of its ICE range, by using a compression ignition rotary engine—that can run on either petrol or liquid petroleum gas — as a ‘range extender’ in a hybrid setup.

This forms part of a wider ‘well-to-wheel’ approach, as the Japanese carmaker calls it, considering the emissions of a vehicle for its entire life cycle.

The rotary engine, was invented in Germany in 1954 by motorcycle maker NSU Motorenwerk AG, is lightweight and contains less moving parts then a traditional internal combustion engine.

Mazda was the first signatory to using the rotary engine technology, signing an agreement with NSU in 1961.

Because of the smaller size and higher output of the rotary engine, Mazda says that it presents ‘multiple electrification technology solutions possible via a shared packaging layout’.

The compression ignition technology behind the SKYACTIV-X rotary engine uses a process that enables a ‘super lean burn’, says the company, equaling or exceeding its diesel equivalent.

“They say that the automotive industry is undergoing a once-in-a-century transformation. At Mazda, we see this as an opportunity to create a new car culture,” says Akira Marumoto, Mazda’s Representative Director, President and CEO.

We’ll let you read between the lines on that one.

Mazda does intend to introduce a purely electric battery EV, along with its rotary range extender ‘EV’ starting from 2019, but it says it expects 95% of its sales in 2030 will still be hybrid solutions.

As the first of its EV range will be introduced in markets that have a high ratio of clean energy generation or policies in place to restrict high emissions vehicles, its unlikely that Australia will be one of its first markets.

There are no details as yet to range, or battery size and motor output.

The Driven has enquired to confirm whether plugging in the battery of the hybrid rotary version will be an option, and we will keep you up to date as more information comes to hand.

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