Mazda has called time on manufacture of the RX-8 sports car and mass production of the rotary engine. It’s naturally a sad day for hardcore rotor fans, but this may not be the end of the road for the hard-spinning motor.
According to reports the final RX-8 rolled off the production line last month and the remaining stock will be sold by the end of this year.
The RX-8′s slide into oblivion didn’t happen suddenly and has been on the cards since Mazda stopped offering the car in Europe last year. The RX-8 couldn’t make the grade with the stricter EU emission standards and was sent packing. Over in the States, Mazda sold just 1,134 of the models last year and 2011 has been even slower.
It’s a tough end for a car that was coveted and admired when it launched back in 2003. The best sales year for the RX-8 was 2004 when it sold 23,690 units. It’s hung on as the last in the long line of rotary-powered sports machines that started back in 1971 with the RX-2, continued through the years with the successful RX-7, which lasted for three generations, and ultimately ended with the sharp-handling RX-8.
So will the RX-8 be known as the world’s last mass-produced rotary-powered sports car? According to Mazda’s product planner Kiyoshi Fujiwara – there is still hope.
Fujiwara claims no final decision has been made just yet. “I have always said that rotary engines are part of our soul,” said Fujiwara. “We have to continue the rotary evolution”. He also added that its future depends largely on the success of the newly introduced gasoline and diesel SKYACTIV engines: if they sell in big numbers, then Mazda will have the funds to go ahead with the project.
It’s a sad day when the survival of the rotary engine depends on more mundane Mazda offerings. But give it a few years and an all-new RX-9 may still rise from the ashes.