Rotary engine still the only Japanese car to win the Le Mans endurance race
October 7, 2011
by The Canadian Press
TOKYO—Mazda will stop making cars with its rotary engines after a 45-year run that includes powering the first and only Japanese car to win the 24-hour Le Mans endurance race.
Poor sales and the high costs of meeting modern emissions standards have made rotary engines uneconomical to produce.
Mazda Motor Corp. says the latest edition of the Mazda RX-8 will hit the market in November, with a sales target of 1,000 vehicles, but will end production in June 2012.
The RX-8 is the only model in Mazda’s lineup with the rotary engine.
The Japanese automaker introduced the first rotary engine in 1967 and is still the only car maker in the world to make a rotary engine.
The engines have fewer moving parts and are quieter than comparable piston engines but are more expensive to manufacture and consume more fuel.
The company sold only 2,896 RX-8 cars last year—1,245 in North America and 963 in Japan. Cumulative sales of Mazda vehicles with rotary engines total almost two million.