What is it?
A Mazda 2 supermini re-engineered as an electric car and powered by a 20kwhr, 346 volt lithium-ion battery pack fed by a range-extender rotary petrol engine and generator.
Mazda already has a Mazda 2 electric vehicle in use in Japan, so the range-extender is an incredible elegant engineering solution that shoe-horns the compact rotary engine powerpack under the hatchback’s rear boot floor.
The combustion engine is a single rotor of 330cc swept capacity designed to operate at a constant 2000rpm, when it pushes out a modest 26bhp.
To maximise space utilisation, the rotary engine is mounted horizontally under the rear boot floor together with its fuel tank and generator. This sub-assembly is incredibly compact, and looks like it would fit in a large suitcase.
The battery pack is arranged under the hatch’s main floor from where it feeds energy forward to the 100bhp electric motor, regulator and controller mounted in the engine bay.
Given the modest battery-pack capacity, Mazda’s range-extender is designed to cut in at a relatively low 6mph and to run continuously.
Of course, there is a weight penalty for carrying around all this technology. And whereas a base-spec Mazda 2 weighs in just over 1000kg, the battery version adds around 100kg and the range extender a further 100kg or so, pushing the total weight out to 1300kg.
Like the BMW i3 range extender, the Mazda 2 EV range extender’s range is dictated by its fuel-tank capacity, which coincidentally matches the new BMW exactly at 9 litres.
Mazda draws a further parallel with the high-tech BMW, saying that early studies indicate CO2 output might get close to the carbonfibre i3. BMW quotes 13g/km; Mazda says its range extender might hit 15g/km, although it stresses that the number hasn’t yet been measured.