So, what's the holdup?
This subject simply refuses to die. Ever since the RX-8 ended production in 2012, Mazda has been hurled with questions about a new rotary-powered sports car. Nothing has happened yet, though 2015’s RX-Vision concept was the closest we got to a potential product. Will there be a production version or is Mazda completely giving up on rotary technology?
Automotive News recently chatted with Mazda’s new CEO Akira Marumoto about several subjects and, naturally, rotary engines and sports cars came up. Although Marumoto acknowledged the RX-Vision and the possibility of using a rotary engine as a range extender, he also stated that “we are not in a business environment now where can start building rotary engine vehicles right away.” How come? Blame electric vehicles.
While Mazda has just introduced its all-new internal combustion engine technology, called SkyActiv-X, with its redesigned Mazda3 sedan and hatchback, eventually it will need to offer electrified powertrains. That's where the money will need to be invested, not rotary engines. But fortunately, there is some good news. Marumoto also said that it “is a dream of everyone at Mazda… to produce a vehicle powered by a rotary engine – and not just using a rotary engine as a range extender.”
Dreams are one thing, market demands are something else entirely. Because Mazda is independent, its resources are far more limited than domestic rivals such as Toyota. Marumoto clarified he fully intends to keep Mazda independent but remains open to partnerships in some areas.
Above all, he intends to keep Mazda’s distinctive nature, meaning it has to develop its own technologies, products, and sales network. Unfortunately, a purely rotary-powered sports car is just not something that can be financially justified at the moment. But if Mazda continues to experience strong sales with its current and upcoming offerings, then who knows. Fortunately, the MX-5 Miata remains one of the best all-around sports cars on the market today.