JAPAN: Mazda builds its last rotary engine after 45 years
Will there ever be an RX-9 to replace the RX-8?
There are vague promises of a replacement but no guarantees: Mazda has just ended production of the RX-8 after nine years.
The rotary-engined RX-8 went into production in February 2003 having originally been exhibited as the RX Evolv concept at the 2001 Tokyo show.
Mazda launched a final edition of 1,000 RX-8 'Spirit R' cars in Japan in November 2011. The company stated at the time that production would end in 'summer 2012'. In April, the firm announced that it would build another 1,000 cars but that production would end in June. The last car has now rolled off the line at the Ujina 1 plant in Hiroshima and no direct replacement is planned.
The company's first rotary-powered car was the 1967 Cosmo Sport. Then followed a series of RX numbered models throughout the early to mid 1970s, with a highpoint for rotary production reached in 1973. That year, Mazda built 239,871 cars powered by the engine.
Like Mazda's earlier rotaries, the Renesis engine that powered the RX-8 used oil injection to lubricate seals, so a proportion of fuel went unburned. This meant that fuel consumption and emissions were higher than many of the car's rivals.
The firm insists it will continue R&D efforts on the rotary: an experimental model, said to be an EV with a range-extending single-rotor engine fueled by hydrogen, is expected to be revealed in Japan next year.
Author: Glenn Brooks