Mazda takes the RX-8 out of rotation

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A MAzda RX-8

Mazda has shut down production of the Mazda Rx-8. Photo Credit: S 400 Hybrid/Wikimedia Commons.

Mazda has announced that there will be not be another model year of the RX-8, the rotary-engine sports car that succeeded the RX-7. A number of factors, including falling sales, contributed to the model’s demise, and a successor is not on the horizon.

Mazda drops rotary engine sports car

The Mazda Motor Corporation has announced that it has stopped making the Mazda RX-8, according to USA Today. The 2011 RX-8 is the last edition of the car, and the last one has already rolled off the assembly line. There are only 219 at dealerships as of today, Aug. 24. According to AutoNews.com, there were 300 on Aug. 1, a 118-day supply of RX-8 cars. The RX-8 was a rarity among cars; Mazda was famed for producing cars that use a Wankel rotary engine, which differs from a traditional multi-cylinder engine in that a single triangular piston rotates in the engine chamber. The RX-8 produces more than 220 horsepower from a 1.3 liter plant.

Poor sales and emission problems

The biggest factors in the death of the RX-8 were rapidly plummeting sales and difficulties with emission regulations. The model had to be pulled from Mazda’s offerings in Europe because the car could not meet the emissions requirements set by the European Union. To make matters worse, sales of the RX-8 have been falling aggressively for years. According to CNET, Mazda sold 1,134 RX-8s last year, which was a 49 percent decline from RX-8 sales in 2009. This year, sales of the RX-8 had fallen a further 21 percent at the end of July. The RX-8 peaked in 2004, when Mazda sold 23,690 RX-8 cars. To make matters worse, a stronger Japanese yen and weaker American dollar led to Mazda posting huge losses.

Not the end of the rotary

The first rotary engine sports car made by Mazda was the Mazda NSU Spider in 1964, according to the South African Independent Online. The end of the RX-8 model is leading some to think it might be the end of the rotary engine sports car because Mazda is the only major car firm that makes one. However, this isn’t the first time that a Mazda with a rotary engine was pulled from the lineup. The Mazda RX-7 suffered a similar fate after initially showing strong sales. The RX-7 was introduced in 1978, and sold 50,000 cars per year in the early 1980s, according to AutoNews. It was pulled from the U.S after model year 1995. It took until 2003 for the RX-8 to arrive. Mazda is currently developing the 16X, a 1.6 liter rotary engine that should not have problems with emissions and fuel economy. The 16X is slated to be ready by 2017.

Sources

USA Today

CNET

Independent Online

AutoNews

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