Mazda has finally announced the return of the rotary engine! Thing is, it won’t be directly powering the wheels…

Instead, the Japanese automaker says it will use a “lightweight and exceptionally quiet” version of its rotary engine as a range-extender for electric vehicles, confirming an earlier report.

The brand says it plans to launch two battery electric vehicles. The first will be powered solely by battery, while the second will pair its battery with a rotary engine.

The range-extender rotary will recharge the battery “when necessary” to increase the vehicle's driving range, something Mazda says will “eliminate” range anxiety.

Mazda claims the engine's “small size and high power output” make multiple electrification technology solutions possible via a shared packaging layout.

Interestingly, the brand says its rotary range-extender is designed to also burn liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and provide a source of electricity in emergencies.

The move is part of Mazda's goal of reducing its corporate average "well-to-wheel" CO2 emissions to 50 percent of 2010 levels by the year 2030, and to 90 percent by 2050.

Still, the automaker says it will continue to focus on "maximising the efficiency of the internal combustion engine", as shown by the development of its new-generation Skyactiv-X petrol engine, which combusts through compression ignition.