Not quite the rotary return we expected

After a long wait, the iconic Mazda rotary engine is finally returning to production. But before you start celebrating, here's the kicker - the Wankel engine that once powered the RX-7 is indeed back, but as an electric vehicle's range extender.

Mazda rotary engine returns with 2023 MX-30 R-EV image

Yes, it's quite ironic that an engine not known to be great in terms of fuel economy has been utilized to make an electric vehicle travel longer distances. And as much as we'd like to get the "brap" back, the rotary engine will be utilized as a generator for the 2023 MX-30 R-EV hybrid. The MX-30 R-EV will debut at next year's Brussels Motor Show on January 2023.

Essentially, Mazda is using the rotary engine in a similar fashion to Nissan's e-Power system. The MX-30 R-EV will still have an electric motor connected to the axles, while the rotary engine operates at a constant speed to recharge the MX-30's batteries.

Mazda rotary engine returns with 2023 MX-30 R-EV image

The existing all-electric MX-30 struggles in having a longer range from its 35.5 kWh battery, as it can only reach up to 161 km on a single charge. Putting in the rotary engine as a generator should stretch the MX-30's maximum range to that of a typical combustion-engined crossover.

For now, Mazda has yet to reveal details about the specifications of their new rotary range extender, and we may have to wait until the 2023 Brussels Motor Show to find out more about it.