Fans of Mazda's unique rotary engine may only have one more year to snatch up a new version of the RX-8 sports coupe.
Motor Trend is reporting that Mazda plans to kill the car in the North American market after the 2011 model year. The news doesn't really come as a surprise as the RX-8, and rotary engines in general, have more than a few hurdles to overcome in the coming years.
The rotary engine uses a triangular rotor that spins and gyrates as it creates horsepower instead of the pistons found in standard internal combustion engines. The end result is a lightweight and compact alternative to the four stroke engines in most modern vehicles.
On the downside, a rotary isn't terribly efficient with fuel. The RX-8 achieves only a combined gas mileage of 18 mpg, which is only mile more than a Chevrolet Suburban gets according to EPA estimates.
Fuel mileage is a major concern for all manufacturers as new government regulations on car efficiency take hold in the near future. Mazda has already officially announced it will stop selling the RX-8 in the European market because of emissions regulations.
Gas mileage, isn't the only thing hurting Mazda's zoom-zoomiest of cars. It just isn't selling.
The latest version RX-8 debuted around a decade ago in 2001. The car went on sale in North America in 2004 and was generally well received by both Mazda fans and the press, who really enjoyed the rotary's unique driving experience and great handling. Over the years though, the car has been overshadowed by the release of newer cars, and sales have dropped.
Mazda has a long and storied history with the rotary engine, in the 1960's they pioneered the power plant in their Cosmo grand touring car. Mazda has more invested in the development of the rotary engine than any other manufacturer, and it seems unlikely that they would let it die out in the face of a new challenge.
Rumors and speculation dictate that the next rotary powered car will badged as the RX-7, the shining star of Mazda's sports car past. Rotary fans are sure to wait with anticipation for official word on that car, but in the mean time, they will not be able to find a rotary in Mazda showrooms in the near future.