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What goes around comes around and around and around. 

Eleven years after discontinuing it, Mazda has brought back its signature rotary engine in an unusual way.

It turned it into a range-extending generator for its MX-30 electric SUV.

A rotary engine typically has a better power to weight ratio than a piston engine and runs more smoothly, making it technically ideal for this application, where it can operate at a constant speed.

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The MX-30 R-EV’s rotary engine is rated at 73.7 hp.
(Mazda)

The MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV is a plug-in hybrid version of the model equipped with a small battery that provides 53 miles of range on the European test cycle.

The gasoline-fueled motor drives a generator.

The gasoline-fueled motor drives a generator.
(Mazda)

The gasoline-powered single-rotor engine and 13-gallon gas tank can be used after the battery is drained for longer trips, but is not connected to the wheels at all. It is just used to generate electricity.

The engine uses a single rotor.

The engine uses a single rotor.
(Mazda)

It can also be turned on selectively, so the driver can choose when to go into all-electric mode, as is the case with many plug-in hybrids that use piston engines as range extenders.

The MX-30 R-EV's logo is an "e" shaped like a rotor.

The MX-30 R-EV’s logo is an “e” shaped like a rotor.
(Mazda)

According to the Autopian, the engine operates at a maximum RPM of 4,700, which is far lower than the 9,000 RPM redline of the rotary in the 2012 Mazda RX-8 sports car, the last to feature one in a conventional set-up where it drove the wheels through a transmission.

The engine is installed under the hood with the electric drive motor and the MX-30 uses a small battery pack good for 53 miles of range.

The engine is installed under the hood with the electric drive motor and the MX-30 uses a small battery pack good for 53 miles of range.
(Mazda)

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The major issues with rotary engines have been efficiency and emissions, which Mazda has addressed with design changes that include new apex seals for the triangular-shaped rotor, which spins within an oval chamber.

The MX-30 features rear-opening rear doors.

The MX-30 features rear-opening rear doors.
(Mazda)

The MX-30 R-EV also has a power outlet that allows the powertrain to be used as a stationary generator for electrical appliances.

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The model launches in Europe this year, but hasn’t yet been confirmed for sale in the U.S., where the all-electric MX-30 is currently offered only in California in a version with just 100 miles of range.


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