Fans of Mazda’s rotary Wankel engine will be preparing their salutes, tributes, and candle light vigils this month as Mazda has just announced the final ending assembly date for the brand’s renown rotary engine.
Just yesterday, Mazda stated that production for the Renesis engine, the brand’s only existing rotary engine, will be ceasing production by the end of this month.
“Production of the RX-8 will end, but the rotary engine will live on as an important part of Mazda’s spirit,” said Takashi Yamanouchi, Mazda’s president.
Due to poor emissions and fuel economy, Mazda had decided to axe the rotary engine in order to produce more fuel-efficient cars using their latest SkyActiv technologies. Additionally, circumstances in general were not working in the Renesis’s favor, including the fact that Mazda has failed to post a profit in almost five years. As a result, nearly all have contributed to the demise of one of the automobile industry’s most unique and iconic cars.
The most notable circumstance was Mazda’s inability to get the Renesis rotary to pass the European Union’s most recent Euro5 emissions requirements, and additionally, the RX-8’s poor fuel economy was also not helping the brand’s North American CAFE requirement as well.
Though despite the death of Mazda’s rotary, its legacy still carries on strong as Mazda’s history with the rotary is very deep rooted on both consumer and motorsports levels. For instance, Mazda shook the motorsports world with their 787B Le Mans racer in 1991, which became the first Japanese-made car to win Le Mans. Not to mention, the RX-7 and RX-8 sports cars are still extremely sought after.
“The engine’s roar and its beautiful appearance were loved by those who saw the Mazda 787B win the Le Mans race,” said Yamanouchi.
And although this bit of news may be disappointing, it may not be the end of the rotary world as we know it. Rumors about a completely new Mazda rotary, dubbed the “16X” have been floating around for quite some time. And despite the crunches for fuel economy and emissions, which have put the Renesis to rest for once in the pages of history, the Renesis itself might be considered a “dated” designed, considering that the Renesis rotary was a “revolution” of the original “13B” rotary from the original RX-7.
That said, it wouldn’t be illogical to think that Mazda is just fixing itself to fix a profit. Once they post a profit, who knows…they may get back into the game of completely reengineering an all new rotary engine that could meet, if not exceed future fuel economy and emissions requirements, using the technology and knowledge learned from their SkyActiv programs and modern day engineering, rather than utilizing an aged design.
And even though the last two paragraphs are speculation, either way, just keep your fingers crossed.
- By: Chris Chin