TOKYO — Mazda Motor Corp. plans to revive its famed rotary engine — last used commercially in 2012 — to power a range-extender hybrid vehicle as part of a wider plan to electrify its entire lineup by 2030.
The plan signals a diversification from the Japanese car maker's dependence on traditional internal combustion engines as it reacts to increasingly stringent fuel economy rules.
Mazda said it will deploy some form of electrification in all vehicles by 2030, when it expects pure electric vehicles and range extenders to account for 5 percent of its lineup, with the balance being combustion engines paired with some form of electrification.
"We've seen drastic changes in automotive-related environmental policies all over the world," CEO Akira Marumoto said at a news conference in Tokyo. "We, at Mazda, are keeping an eye on what is going on in the industry as we move forward with our strategy."
As part of the push, Mazda will develop one pure electric vehicle and another range-extender hybrid. The range extender will drive like a normal battery-powered electric vehicle but have a compact rotary engine to recharge the battery and give the car a longer cruising range.
Mazda said its rotary engine is well suited to the task because it is compact, powerful and quiet. For an extra touch of green, it also can burn liquefied petroleum gas, Mazda said.
Some of its rivals that are switching to EVs and hybrids, but Mazda has stuck dutifully to incremental improvements in the internal combustion engine as the cornerstone of its powertrain strategy.
The Hiroshima-based auto maker is promising a major breakthrough in gasoline engine technology next year when it introduces its Skyactiv-X engine. That powerplant, Mazda said, will feature a variant of compression ignition for more power and better fuel economy.
But Mazda also is beefing up its electrification footprint in several ways, including the upcoming pure electric and range extender. Last year, it partnered with Toyota Motor Corp., auto parts supplier Denso Corp. and other Japanese auto makers in an EV joint venture.
Through that new company, called EV Common Architecture Spirit Co., Mazda and its partners will cooperate in developing the architecture and components of electric cars for use in a wide range of segments, from mini-vehicles to light trucks.