Starting in the 1970′s, Mazda brought its first rotary engine to market, and last friday, the company assembled its last one, marking the end of an era for the Japanese automaker.
With its new SkyActiv technology, Mazda is looking at a new generation of engines which puts fuel-efficiency as its prime concern. When the rotary engine first debuted, it was praised for its light-weight and small displacement that was capable of large power. It was arguably ahead of its time, but unfortunately, time has caught up with it, and with a new era of small displacement turbocharged engine, the rotary no longer has any relevance.
The RX-8 is the last Mazda car outfitted with a rotary engine, and it was destined for a halt in production after it’s rotary engine failed diagnostics tests for the Euro 5 emission requirements that came into effect in 2010.
“Fuel emission standards can mean the life or death to some products,” said Masato Sase, a consultant at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting Co. “It makes no economic sense to build cars using a certain technology, and if there isn’t ample demand for that, it’s difficult for them to survive.”
Debuting in the Cosmo Sport in 1967, Mazda managed to sell almost two million vehicles with rotary engines over the last 45 years. Hoping for the same result, SkyActiv has already been proving itself as a large competitor, selling more than analysts anticipated.
The new SkyActiv-D diesel engine also shows a new direction for the brand, again focusing on fuel-efficiency over high output.
By 2016, Mazda wants SkyActiv tech in 80 percent of its vehicles, a strategy meant to bring the company back to profitability.