Mazda doesn’t often make the EV news, but the Japanese brand does have an electric program – it has leased some 100 units of the Demio EV (the Demio is known outside of Japan as the Mazda 2), which has a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery and a 200 km range, to local government bodies and corporate customers in Japan, beginning in October 2012.
Recently, the UK magazine Autocar got to test a prototype version that has a range-extending rotary gas engine.
The 330 cc single-rotor engine is designed to operate at a constant 2,000 rpm, cranking out 26 bhp. It kicks in at speeds over 6 mph, and runs continuously, feeding energy to the 100 bhp electric motor. The engine, generator and nine-liter fuel tank are mounted under the rear cargo compartment. The whole assembly is very compact – Autocar says it looks like it would fit in a large suitcase.
The battery pack and range extender add over 200 kg to the 1,000 kg base weight of the car. Mazda has beefed up the rear springs to handle the extra weight.