Mazda Motor Corp. has stopped its production of RX-8 rotary engine sports car in Hiroshima, Japan because of declining sales performance and rigid global emissions standards.
Mazda has only sold 1,134 RX-8s in 2010, a 49% drop from 2009. Sales figures through July 2011 further showed a decline of 21%.
A source from Mazda said the company pulled out RX-8 in the European market last year because of failure to meet local emissions standards.
The steady surging of the yen against the dollar also contributed to the difficulty of exporting vehicles from Japan which resulted to big losses in North American operations.
In 1995, RX-7 was pulled out in the US market and returned only in 2003 with the introduction of RX-8. RX-8 and RX-7 are seen as highly accountable for Mazda’s fun-to-drive reputation.
The looming extinction of RX-8, however, may not be the end of rotary engine at Mazda as sources said engineers from Hiroshima are working on the next generation code named 16X – a 1.6 –liter rotary engine which is said to have lower emissions, more power and better fuel economy.
The 16X was unveiled in 2007 during the Tokyo Motor Show but the project has not made progress since the financial crisis.
Asked to comment on the status of 16X, Jim Sullivan, CEO of Mazda North American Operations rather said Mazda is still studying on the ‘best way to come back to the market with the rotary.’