Mazda has produced the rotary engine for use in its vehicles since 1963, but that streak has now come to an end with the demise of the Mazda RX-8. A victim of tightening emissions requirements, high gasoline prices and low consumer demand, the RX-8 has now officially ended production.
Sales in Europe were halted back in 2010, when the RX-8 was unable to comply with the stricter Euro-5 emission standard. The RX-8 soldiered on in the United States (and in other markets), but Mazda managed to sell just 1,134 RX-8s here in 2010. That’s not nearly enough to justify production, and Mazda knew the time had come to pull the plug on the RX-8. There’s still some 300 units in U.S. inventory, which at the current rate of sales represents a 118-day supply.
Mazda has been working on a replacement rotary engine and a new rotary-powered sports car, but that project has been shelved until Mazda launches their SkyActiv range of vehicles. The SkyActiv vehicles promise superior handling and superior fuel economy, so Mazda must recover the development costs from this program before it canl continue work on a rotary-engined sports car. The irony is this: to save its highest performance vehicles, and further the development of what many feel is the “soul” of Mazda, the automaker needs to be successful at selling its upcoming green cars.