Mazda Rotary-Powered Plug-in Hybrid to Launch in 2013

Mazda is plotting a gasoline range-extended electric car and, as usual, is choosing to take its own path in the development, relying on engine technology exclusive to the brand.

According to company boss Takashi Yamanouchi, the Japanese automaker is committed to the rotary engine. And while a next-gen rotary sports car isn’t out of the question, for now Mazda will focus on using the technology in a plug-in hybrid.

Speaking at the Moscow Motor Show this week, Yamanouchi commented that roatry engines are at their most efficient at low rpm and under constant load. That said, it’s ideal for use in range-extended engine – similar to what is found in the Chevrolet Volt. The system would work by having the rotary engine charge batteries that would then be used to move the car via an electric motor. With the electric capacity already on-board, it’s all but certain to also have a plug-in component.

Mazda has been on a product and technology offensive as of late, launching its SkyActiv models, including the 2012 Mazda3, CX-5 and most recently the 2014 Mazda6. With a next-gen Miata in the works, the new plug-in rotary vehicle will arrive first, debuting next year. It’s not clear if the car will be based on an existing model or be an all-new model, though Mazda has confirmed it will initially only be available to lease in Japan.

[Source: Autocar]