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Mazda CEO Says “No” to Plans for Larger Sports Car Entry, Is the RX-9 Dead?

The year was 2010 when Mazda first told the media it’s working on reinventing the rotary engine. Then a patent for a rotary mill surfaced from the USPTO’s archives in 2016, leading fans on a wild guessing game about Mazda’s upcoming Wankel-powered sports car. Previewed by the RX-Vision Concept from 2015, it’s painful to consider that the Mazda RX-8’s successor might not ever happen.
Mazda RX-Vision Concept (preview for 2020 Mazda RX-9 rotary sports car) 21 photos
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Speaking to Automotive News about the future product strategy, head honcho Masamichi Kogai was asked whether Mazda will “create an RX-8 sports car successor with a range successor.” His answer made it clear that the MX-5 Miata with either of the two SkyActiv-G engines is good enough for the keen driver. “No plans for a larger sports car entry?” Mazda’s big kahuna was then asked. Shock and awe, Kogai replied with an unrelenting “no.”

Reading between the lines, these two questions might not be the omen according to which the tentatively called Mazda RX-9 won’t see the light of day by the end of the decade. In a broader notion, the interview published by Automotive News suggests Mazda, as a small company, will focus primarily on eco-friendly technologies such as hybrid, plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles for the time being. Also, bear in mind Kogai could be lying in order to raise the tremendous hype surrounding the rotary sports car’s resurrection.

There’s a tell-tale passage in the interview that makes me believe the RX-9 isn’t merely wishful thinking: “If we were to restart production of the rotary engine again, we need to make sure it wouldn't be just short-lived. We need it to meet future emissions regulations. We are still conducting our R&D activity to overcome any issues we have with emissions and fuel efficiency.”

Bottom line is, give them time. Don't forget Mazda doesn’t have the manpower and financial power to dedicate its research and development efforts to two big projects at the same time: battery-powered electric vehicles and a rotary sports car. Also, there is a silver lining in this story. When asked whether a range-extender rotary or a main traction rotary would come first, Kogai said: “Electrification is a technology we need to introduce in the near future. The [rotary] range extender[-enhanced EV] would be the first.”

In related news, a Mazda electric vehicle will reportedly arrive in 2019.


 
 
 
 
 

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