Mazda at the Geneva motor show breathed fresh life into the stale news that the manufacturer will bring to market an electric vehicle and a range-extended electric vehicle next year.
Bigger news from Mazda in Geneva is that the Mazda CX-30 (pictured) will be offered in the form of two mild-hybrid variants – one powered by the 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G and the other the SKYACTIV-X variant. It’s not known at this stage whether either of these variants will reach Australia.
The two fuel-saving variants of the new SUV are perched at one end of an electrified-vehicle spectrum that Mazda names ‘XEV’.
At the other end is the new battery-electric vehicle and its range-extended counterpart، which will both be uniquely ‘electrified’ models within the range، like the Hyundai Ioniq or the BMW i3. But XEV casts a wide net at the other end to incorporate mild hybrid variants across the mainstream model lines. It’s likely too that plug-in hybrids will be variants of conventional models.
Mazda’s head of powertrain development، Ichiro Hirose، told carsales through an interpreter that the in-house name for the company’s electrification strategy is ‘XEV’ when asked whether the range-extender rotary could be employed across the broader model range.
“Currently، what we’ve announced… is that we will implement a battery-electric vehicle by calendar year 2020،” he said.
“After 2020 we’ll be looking to implement a battery EV with an option to have the range extender.
“With the current architecture that allows us for this type of set-up، what we are thinking of in scope is that we can adjust the amount of battery that’s loaded، and also look at the balance of the fuel tank supplied.
“For example، you could have something like an internal-combustion engine that’s doing the generating of the electricity، and then [the electricity is] being supplied to increase the driving range of the motor، and that can be deemed as a plug-in hybrid…
“And that all depends on the balance of the battery and the fuel [tank] size.
“You could go more [electric] motor-driven، and that could give you a huge scope of derivatives that can be had، even in this simple set-up.
“We call this [scope] – under an umbrella term – ‘XEV’. We believe that it’s possible to have different levels of derivatives within the line-up by changing this balance.”
Thinking out loud، the Mazda exec acknowledged that the single-rotor engine could supply motive power in a car that was sufficiently light – such as a Mazda2 or an MX-5 – in addition to generating electricity for the electric motor – making such a car a plug-in hybrid rather than a range-extended EV.
However، Hirose-san is not saying that Mazda is committed to developing such a vehicle.
“This is just purely talking about it from a technical standpoint،” he stressed، when asked about the rotary providing motive power.
“You would need some additional sort of development in order to accommodate for the change and variance of the rotary speed، if you were using it for motive means. But having said that، the range-extender application is also prone to special considerations، because even though it looks as though the rotational speed is constant when it’s working، of course there are instances when it’s not working، meaning that it’s completely stopped.
“And if there’s a requirement that comes for it to be generating quickly، then the ramp-up of rotational speed is really steep. So there are also special considerations that we need to think about، even in the… case of the range extender.”