Another claimed advantage of the MX-30 concept is that it has more range per kWh of battery than many rivals, thought to be because the smaller battery weighs much less than a larger unit, reducing the amount of energy needed to move the vehicle.
The production version of the MX-30, due in mainland Europe later this year and the UK in early 2021 priced at €34,000 (£30,000), will have a 35kWh battery. That will drive an electric motor with 141bhp and 195lb ft of torque and give a range of around 130 miles. The lithium ion battery pack is made in Japan by Panasonic.
Most car makers agree that the average European driver covers around 35 miles per day so Mazda argues that the MX-30 will have enough range for the majority of owners as well as being a genuinely “low-CO2” vehicle across its lifetime.
Kunz told Autocar that for longer-distance drivers who want a low-CO2 vehicle, Mazda is currently developing a new range-extender system that uses a compact rotary engine. An early static prototype of such a system was on display at the MX-30 driving event in Portugal.
Kunz said it is too early to reveal any technical details about the future rotary engine. He added that specific future legislation – such as permitted fuel tank size – will guide the power and range of the production version.
However, Autocar can reveal that the engine, generator and control electronics fit easily into the right-hand side of the engine bay, which it shares with the electric motor and its control equipment. The engine’s rotor housing is just 75mm deep and the engine uses a single spark plug and is started by the generator.
This is not the first time that the company has experimented with using its signature rotary engine as a range extender. In 2011, Mazda built a prototype 2 range extender that used a small rotary engine mounted under the boot floor.
Mazda’s engineers have also tuned the torque delivery of the MX-30’s electric motor to be less frenetic than is often the case with EVs, reasoning that they want the MX-30 to feel less like a dramatic change from a typical internal combustion engine vehicle.
Ultimately, however, the Japanese brand is showing some bravery in disputing the prevailing wisdom around battery-electric vehicles, by insisting that a modest 35kWh unit is as ‘green’ as a vehicle battery is likely to be.
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