After more than four decades championing the rotary engine—a powertrain that has become synonymous with Mazda—the Japanese automaker is shelving it in favor of its newer, Skyactiv engines. According to a report in the Japan times, the last rotary powered car will roll off the assembly line in Hiroshima this month.
The Rotary engine was developed in Germany by Felix Wankel, and Mazda licensed the technology from Audi in 1961. The engine was known for delivering a greater power output, while generally weighing less than engines with similar performance. The Rotary powerplant gained more attention in 1991 when the Mazda 787B won the Le Mans endurance race.
In recent years the engine had lost favor as it returned poor fuel economy compared with newer engines. Shoji Meguro, a music producer in Tokyo who owns an RX-8, said “fuel-efficiency is horrible. But I don’t know any car that beats this. I’m going to miss it.”
Mazda apparently feels much the same way. Currently the only Japanese automaker that isn’t profitable, Mazda hopes that its new Skyactiv cars—lighter, more fuel-efficient, and technologically savvy—can help turn the tide. Mazda introduced its first fully Skyactiv model, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 crossover, earlier this year. The automaker is already projecting higher sales than the 160,000 units originally planned. We got to drive the CX-5 a few months back and were generally impressed. Automatic versions were a little underpowered, as the transmission automatically consistently opted for higher gears to save gas, but the CX-5 delivered excellent fuel economy, and was still relatively fun to drive. Mazda plans to eventually have its entire lineup featuring the Skyactiv technology.
Source: The Japan Times