Mazda throws hat partially into electric car ring, may use rotary range extender

mazda electric car announcement 2016 cx 9 partial front grill
Jeff Zurschmeide
Mazda is joining with electric car commitment lineup, though it is hedging its bets. Mazda told Australian press at the Los Angeles Auto Show it will likely start with a low-volume electric vehicle, teaming with Toyota in developing an electric powertrain with an optional rotary engine range extender, according to CarAdvice.com.

“Probably by 2020 globally, five to 10 percent [of vehicle sales] will be pure EV, while the other 95-90 will still use ICE (internal combustion engine). Therefore ICE is [still] the most important technology all over the world,” Mazda’s Head of Research and Development Kiyoshi Fujiwara said.

Mazda’s initial electric cars may not show up in the United States, however, or in the huge Chinese market, Fujiwara said. “Of course we need EVs. As you know, in Norway, the complete energy source is water … this means that EV is much better for CO2 in Norway. But not in the U.S. or China … Therefore we are focusing on ICE, but some regions we need EV, so therefore in 2019 [or] in that time frame we will introduce EV where it is needed in the world.”

In a separate roundtable at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai said the company would offer electric vehicles in 2019 in order to “accommodate the ZEV regulations in North America,” Electrek reported. The ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicle) regulations are percentages of total fleet sales with zero-emissions guidelines established by California and adopted by nine other states.

Electrek also quoted a Wall Street Journal report in which Kogai said, “Mazda would add original features to its electric cars to differentiate itself. He said engineers were looking at ways to keep the cars running longer when the battery was nearly dead.” The “original features” comment sounds like a reference to the small ICE rotary range extender mentioned by Fujiwara.

Mazda is developing its system by itself, according to Fujiwara, but development has just started. Any partnership with Toyota for cost efficiency and scalability would likely involve portions common to vehicles made by both companies.

Fujiwara also indicated that Mazda’s first electric vehicle would use an existing ICE platform, rather than starting from the ground with a new EV platform. Because he sees the Mazda EV with a small rotary range extender, the ICE platform could be suitable. If it were battery only, requiring huge battery packs, then a new platform would be required.

Mazda’s R&D head also indicated that as the cost of battery technology comes down, the potential for electric vehicles increases. So overall, Mazda is going to develop at least one electric vehicle but for now, the company appears to be committing to EVs only with an ICE assist.

Cars

It’s not easy being green. Why EVs have a long road to replace gas vehicles

Electric vehicles are all the rage right now, but are they really better than your average gas-powered car? We take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the technology, and whether or not they're ready for mass adoption.
News

Tesla hasn’t made a pickup, so YouTuber Simone Giertz made one out of a Model 3

There’s a new Tesla model in town (sort of). Sick of waiting for Tesla to release an electric pickup truck, YouTuber Simone Giertz decided to make her own — post a fake commercial for it on YouTube.
Cars

Forget turrets. Hummer could fight its next war in the electric SUV segment

General Motors is considering resurrecting the Hummer brand it axed in 2010 to make electric off-roaders. The plan hasn't been approved yet, and it risks alienating some die-hard Hummer fans, but it makes sense on several levels.
Cars

Watch as Volkswagen’s ID R racer wins the ultimate EV bragging rights

The Volkswagen ID R has set a lap record for electric cars at Germany's Nürburgring Nordschleife. The electric race car's lap time of 6 minutes, 5.33 seconds beat the previous record by 40 seconds.
Cars

Kia draws inspiration from Greek mythology to create a crossover for millennials

Kia will expand its global portfolio of crossovers and SUVs when it unveils a model named Seltos on June 20, 2019. Developed for milennials, the Seltos is a small, high-tech model named after the son of Hercules.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Don’t let the SUV bodies fool you, BMW’s X3 M and X4 M are bona fide M cars

BMW is launching the first M versions of its X3 and X4. The 2020 X3 M and X4 M Competition pack a new 503-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six and BMW’s usual array of performance tech.
Cars

After years of Le Mans misfortune, Toyota becomes impossible to beat

Toyota scored a one-two finish at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans, its second win a row at the legendary French race. Toyota is the first Japanese automaker to win Le Mans twice, but its wins came without any real competition.
Cars

Uber drivers reportedly triggering higher fares through Surge Club

Uber drivers are reportedly participating in a so-called Surge Club to artificially trigger higher fares. Many drivers said that they do not want to join the shady practice, but they are forced to do so due to pay cuts.
Cars

Intel hates that your car is dumber than your phone. Here’s how they’ll fix it

Motorists are often underwhelmed and/or frustrated with their car's native infotainment system, so millions of them rely on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Intel is helping Google and Volvo change that by bringing phone-like tech to the…
Cars

Fisker wants to make sure Tesla’s Model Y isn’t in a class of one when it lands

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Cars

Could a high-performance Nissan Leaf steal the mighty GT-R’s lunch money?

Nissan developed the electric Leaf with range and practicality in mind, but the hatchback could lend its hardware to a high-performance flagship. One of Nissan's chief executives announced a four-motor, 850-hp model could arrive during the…
Cars

This futuristic driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas

Pizza delivery using driverless pods is about to become a thing. Domino's has partnered with autonomous-tech specialist Nuro to use the futuristic pods for a trial delivery service starting later this year.
Cars

Flat-six makes a brief but triumphant return in Porsche’s hot-rodded 718 duo

Porsche unveiled a pair of 718-based sports cars that brazenly buck the industry's downsizing trend. The 718 Cayman GT4 and the 718 Spyder ditch the turbocharged flat-four in favor of a naturally aspirated, 4.0-liter flat-six rated at 414…