Range-Extended Mazda 2 EV Gets Driven – Gas Tank Capacity and REx Location Are Identical to BMW i3

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 26

Pure Electric Version of Mazda 2 - This One Lacks the Range Extender

Pure Electric Version of Mazda 2 – This One Lacks the Range Extender

For years now, Japanese automaker Mazda has been wheeling out various versions of its electrified Mazda 2 (aka Demio overseas).  None of these versions have made it into “production,” though a few handfuls are on public roads.

Mazda 2 - aka Demio Overseas

Mazda 2 – aka Demio Overseas

Now, Mazda has this range-extended version out there and we’re thinking it may actually be production bound.

For starters, this version of the Mazda 2 features a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 100 hp electric motor.  Range-extending duties are accomplished by a 330-cc 26-hp rotary engine (this engine won’t make it into production, as even Mazda says it’s too dirty).

Like the BMW i3, the Mazda 2 features the REx engine under the hatchback’s load floor.  It’s sandwiched down there in almost an identical spot as you’ll see it in the i3.

Another i3 similarity pops up too and this is why we’re thinking some version of the Mazda 2 REx is production bound.  The Mazda 2 with REx has a gas tank that’s sized identically to the BMW i3.  We know that BMW choose the i3’s tank size to comply with California guidelines, so we have to assume Mazda did the same here.

While Mazda won’t official say whether or not the Mazda 2 REx is production bound, we happen to believe that it could enter the production cycle almost immediately (Mazda would have to swap the rotary engine for a scooter motor like the BMW i3 employs) if Mazda were to give it the green light.

If this green machine makes it to production, then we sure would know what it’s gonna be like, right?  For that info, we turn to Autocar’s test drive review of the REx Mazda 2:

“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.”

BMW i3 With REx

BMW i3 With REx – Same Spot Mazda Puts Its REx in the Mazda 2

“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.”

What is it like?

“This was a very short drive in an early engineering prototype, so it is more appropriate to report impressions rather than draw firm conclusions, but overall the feeling is of a fascinating new powertrain with considerable promise.”

“Like all electric cars, the Mazda delivers smooth, quiet and instant performance from rest. Acceleration builds gently, thanks to the relatively modest power outputs for the battery and range extender, but felt a little adrift of the 10.8 secs to 62mph from rest that Mazda quotes.”

“Responsiveness was good, as was the refinement on/off the accelerator pedal, which says volumes for the sophistication of Mazda’s calibration of the motor and its controller at this early stage.”

Personally, We'd Welcome a BMW i3-Like Mazda 2

Personally, We’d Welcome a BMW i3-Like Mazda 2

Autocar notes that Mazda hasn’t worked on any of the NVH elements of this vehicle and says that further tuning is required.  It’s an early-stage prototype though, so we’ll overlook those mentions for now.

Of particular interest to us is the similarities between this Mazda and the i3.  Yes, the i3 is a far more capable performance machine, but there’s something to be said of the fact the Mazda mentions the i3 in the same breath of this REx Mazda 2.  Surely the Mazda 2 REx would be significantly cheaper than the i3, that is, if it ever makes it into production.  And two somewhat similar REx options out there are definitely better than only one.

Source: Autocar

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26 responses to "Range-Extended Mazda 2 EV Gets Driven – Gas Tank Capacity and REx Location Are Identical to BMW i3"

  1. David Murray says:

    This would be fantastic. The i3 is better looking, in my opinion. But if the price were right, the Mazda would be a great choice.

    1. Bonaire says:

      The Mazda should be close to $10k lower than the i3.

  2. MTN Ranger says:

    Even the battery pack is similar 20 vs 20.8kwh. You should mention that the electric motor is in the front (and therefore front wheel drive). 0-62MPH of 10.8 seconds is roughly 3 seconds slower. So it weighs about 450 lbs more than the ICE version; not too bad.

    If Mazda could get this in the $30k price range, it will do well.

  3. Brian says:

    Like the i3, it has a good sized battery (probably 70-80 miles of AER, similar to most BEVs), and it has a small range extender engine. I like this model for range extenders, but I wish they could put larger gas tanks for a meaningful trip (the main purpose of a range extender).

  4. KeiJidosha says:

    Bummer that the smoother, more compact Wankel REx is 0 for 2. First Audi, now Mazda. I thought that being a serial hybrid allowed constant RPMs, and so better (cleaner) combustion?

    http://insideevs.com/audi-a1-e-tron-next-generation-gets-updated-more-power/

  5. kdawg says:

    I’m glad Mazda is considering a real battery for their first plug-in. None of that single digit EV range stuff.

  6. Bloggin says:

    Adding a tiny range extender to a compact or sub-compact 100 mile EV is a great idea for the mass market, as long as it’s under $25k.

    With battery pricing dropping to just about the amount of the $7,500 tax incentive(batteries cost from $12k to $15k in 2012, before the $6k brice drop for 2013), the extended range motor add-on should have a net cost the same or less than the ICE version of the same car.

    This could be the sweet spot where more consumers would be willing to switch to an EV as a commuter car, as long as they have the tiny back up engine for 100 additional miles so they will never get stuck – that they may never use.

    However traditional plug-in hybrids with more powerful engines, larger fuel tanks will still remain a better option for consumers to take longer road trips, with the 20 – 40 EV mile range for commuting, and up to 600 total range.

  7. Rick Danger says:

    I wish it were RWD (c’mon, Mazda, and the rest of you, no need to do EVs with FWD), but this would still be on my short list, with or without REx.
    I imagine it would only be a CA compliance car, so oh well….

    1. David Murray says:

      After having driving both RWD and FWD cars… I greatly prefer FWD. It is much safer, IMO.

      1. Rick Danger says:

        We’ll just have to agree to disagree on the merits of FWD vs RWD, and on the looks of the i3 vs the Mazda 2.
        But, if the Mazda 2 were RWD, and the i3 FWD, we’d both be happy 🙂

      2. Brian says:

        I’m with Rick here – FWD may be marginally safer (RWD is pretty darn close with modern traction control), but RWD is much more fun.

        1. Jerry says:

          Front wheel drive is much safer than rear wheel drive, especially in rain or snow!

  8. ModernMarvelFan says:

    No sales….

    Put that power train in the CX-5 or CX-9 and maybe there will be interest.

    1. Bonaire says:

      EREV ‘UVs are very needed by the suburbanites. Give me an EREV Honda CR-V and I am all over it.

      1. Ben says:

        why do want a crappy Honda, let me guess over 50, I hope Honda’s popularity dies, with along with it’s current owners, and lack of EV support.

  9. Warren says:

    This, or a Rex equipped Spark EV would be a perfect car.

    1. David Murray says:

      I seriously doubt there is room in a Spark EV for any sort of REX.

      1. Sevie says:

        Sure there is. Cut a hole in the floor and Fred Flintstone it.

  10. Priusmaniac says:

    This Mazda 2 would be far superior to the BMW i3 because it would have normal proper back seat doors, it would have five seats instead of four and a wankel engine is more compact and advanced than a bicylinder.

    It would also be Superior in the fact that it wouldn’t be burdened by the high cost of brand image, leather seats, eucalyptus wood, exaggerated i-thingisation and other unnecessary expenses.

    The things they should do however is replace the wankel by a better wankel or a direct free piston generator, keep the size of the original standard fuel tank, make the generator flex fuel and last but not least extend the system to the entire lineup and in priority to the larger family friendly sized Mazda 6.

    1. David Murray says:

      I agree with what you say about the reasons it should be cheaper. But the larger gas tank isn’t going to happen due to regulations, same reason for the size of the i3 gas tank. Also, the wankel engines are notorious for getting bad gas mileage, one of the primary reasons Mazda has abandoned it with the new fuel economy requirements of today. I also understand wankels are not particularly reliable.

      1. Priusmaniac says:

        The small gas tank is a requirement only if you want to benefit from larger subsidies but that is not a requirement imposed and many drivers are feeling ok to pay more if that is the consequence for having a practical usable rex as originally intended.
        On the Wankel engine, it depend on which engine, some are pretty good especially running on E85. Beside that engine is not supposed to be used every day, so its performance is rather a secondary consideration just like the performance of a reserve tire. Since it is seldomly used it is ok if the lifetime of it is somewhat shorter then what would be expected for a standard car engine. If the Volt experience is to be considered, a rex will typically run for about 20% of driven miles, so that means 40000 miles only, an easy chore even for a less durable engine.

        1. Jerry says:

          In this case the rotary engine has mileage equal to any IC engine because it runs at a steady optimized speed, rotary engines only have poor mileage when they are accelerated and modern rotary engines are very reliable.

  11. Warren says:

    No need for the bigger tank whatsoever. This thing is fine as it is. I, and most people, need to be able to get to the strip mall, and maybe to the next town to the dollar store. All the uber class hype the Germans can keep.

    1. Jerry says:

      The car is supposed to get 300 miles per gallon, though this may be less in real world driving so gas tank size is irrelevant.

  12. Dan Frederiksen says:

    It’s a good config and I would look into making the ICE even smaller. Efficiency isn’t paramount in this config. It’s more important to get low weight, small size, reliability and low cost.
    Something really scooterish, smooth sowing machine high rpm little thing. If possible in a clever air cooled config that’s aerodynamically appropriate on the underside of the car. Keep it tiny, light and cheap. high rpm makes the generator cheaper.

  13. vegazosten says:

    Great… the more cars they’ll build that way, the better.
    Still it’s personaly an ugly car.