Mazda's rotary engine is making a comeback, but not in the same form as the most recent one pictured here, which was fitted to the RX-8.

Although the rotary engine’s comeback as a range extender has been rumoured for some time now, Mazda has now practically confirmed it through an interview with a Dutch publication.

Mazda’s European sales vice president Martijn ten Brink has told that the company is planning to introduce a fully electric car in 2019, and that buyers with range anxiety would be able to opt for a ‘range extender’ version featuring a wankel motor.

According to Martijn, the single-disc rotary engine - which is flat-mounted and no bigger than a shoebox - will operate purely as a generator to feed the car’s electric motor once the battery has been depleted. He also claimed that the wankel is “vibration free” to the point where occupants will not even notice when it kicks in.

The forthcoming electric car will be built on a new compact car platform that Mazda is developing and it’s expected to be about the size of a Mazda3.

However, Mazda is certainly not giving up on internal combustion engines, with Martijn insisting that these will remain an important part of the mix even in 15 to 25 years from now, albeit increasingly forming part of petrol-electric hybrid drivetrains.

IOL Motoring