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Mazda RX-8 replacement unlikely, for now

Over and out: A replacement for the much loved Mazda RX-8 sportscar is unlikely, but rotary engine technology is set to live on.

Rotary engine could live on as a Mazda range extender into the 2020s

Mazda logo21 Nov 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in LOS ANGELES

MAZDA has labelled an RX-8 or similar replacement rotary sports car the stuff of dreams, confirming that no such vehicle is in the pipeline.

While Mazda Motor Corporation managing executive officer in charge of global sales Masahiro Moro revealed at the Los Angeles auto show that research and development funds are still being allocated to the rotary engine, he admits it remains on the back-burner as the company prioritises the roll-out of core models such as the CX-3 crossover.

“Rotary engine development itself has continued – the engine project itself,” Mr Moro said. “We have not allocated entire resources but (instead) some resources to keep developing the engine.

“But we never put (into action) a program of an entire (rotary) sportscar. That’s been consistent but still for some it’s a dream. That’s fine and you should never give up having a dream, but from a business point, we have a very clear position.

“We don’t give up rotary engine development, and we continue to develop it to meet today’s environment, but for a mass-production car, that project has not been (started).

The Wankel engine may yet have a future role as a range extender over the next decade, as Mazda strives to meet evermore-stringent emissions regulations set to come into force in Europe from 2020.

Last year, GoAuto drove the Mazda2 TPEV, which paired a Japanese-market plug-in hybrid 2 with a rotary engine hooked up to a 20kW alternator.

While the TPEV was a one-off prototype, Mr Moro highlighted a number of potential uses for the technology.

“The rotary engine can be used for a variety of capabilities – it could be used as a generator, it could be used with hydrogen, it could be used as a normal combustion engine. That’s why we are continuing its development.

“But this is not an official program as one of the future advanced technology developments to see how regulations evolve.”“The biggest hurdle we have to jump over is in 2020 in Europe with the 95 gram of CO2 emissions. So we have lots of study about what technologies we have to get over that hurdle.

Mr Moro added that the company's priority at the moment was on delivering its core models and strengthening its bottom line.

“At this moment at this time is how we can increase sales and revenue and business growth with the existing product line. That’s my focus over the next two years. One of the goals is to make our financial baseline very strong.” Though critically acclaimed, the RX-8 never met sales expectations during its eight-year run, and was discontinued in 2011.

Since then speculation has been rife that Mazda may install a rotary engine in a coupe based on the upcoming ND MX-5 convertible, however the company has never confirmed such a program.

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