Rumor: Mazda Preparing Volt Rival Using Rotary Engine
Competition for the Volt
British car site Autocar claims that some "senior sources" at Mazda revealed that the company is working on a rival to GM's Volt. The series hybrid would use a gas engine to generate electricity to charge batteries, but it would always be electric motors turning the wheels (unlike the Prius). This could mean that Ford, who owns a significant portion of Mazda, will also use this technology.
Apparently, it's not just a paper concept. "Trials are currently underway in Japan, with a prototype that uses a rotary engine [like the Mazda RX-8] to charge the battery pack. The tests are sufficiently advanced that Mazda has a working prototype in a Mazda 5 MPV bodyshell. Company bosses are said to be keen to put this system into production but no firm decisions will be made until the cost of batteries is reduced."