RX-8 + rotary engine bite the dust
It's been a long time coming, but Mazda's RX-8 - the last rotary-engined car in production - has finally bitten the dust.
According to Automotive News, Mazda stopped production of the RX-8 last month already although in some markets the remaining stock is expected to last until the end of this year.
Mazda already stopped selling the RX-8 in South Africa some years ago and, more recently, ceased sales in Europe due to its rotary engine not meeting tougher European emission standards.
So is this really the end of the road for the rotary engine, which dates back to the NSU Spider of 1964?
Likely, but not necessarily. In a recent article, we revealed that Mazda product planning and development chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara admitted that there is fierce debate at Mazda about the future of rotary development.
Mazda has been working on a 'next-generation' rotary engine for release in 2017 but bean counters have been trying to axe the product for cost reasons borne from recessionary fears.
Yet Fujiwara admits that rotary engines are a part of Mazda's DNA, and that the company has already solved two of the rotary's three big problems. Perhaps they're thinking along the lines of an extended-range electric vehicle like the Chevy Volt - since Mazda's US vice president has admitted the company has looked at a rotary engine that is tuned to a very specific load and rpm (in which case it runs very efficiently).