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During a press conference at the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda‘s global chief, Takashi Yamanouchi said that a rotary powered MX-5 is a possibility down the road; he also went onto say that the company might consider merging its two separate sports car lines [MX-5 and RX-8], into one.
“I have been saying everywhere that we will continue research on the rotary engine,” he declared. “We will not extinguish the flame of the rotary engine. That kind of product is iconic for our brand. So the current MX-5 or RX-8 we have decided in the future to maintain that type of [sports car] product.” Yet he went on to state that “I can’t say, however, that they will be separate … they may be merged into one.”
However many questions remain. If a single rotary powered sports car were to materialize (there’s speculation it could be a hardtop coupe/convertible in the idom of the Mercedes-Benz SLK, or possibly offered in both piston and rotary powered forms), it would be a ways off. Mazda has already said the next generation MX-5, slated to debut in 2013, will feature a conventional in-line ICE engine, incorporating Mazda’s SkyActiv technology.
As for the RX-8, when production ends next year, there’s currently no definite plans for a replacement, though from Yamanounchi- san’s comments it’s clear development on the rotary engine will continue. The question is, whether it will remain solely as an internal combustion unit or be used as a range extending hydrogen fueled generator (Mazda already has such a prototype engine being evaluated by government agencies). Stay tuned for further developments.