Asked why the rotary sports car program has seen an up and down rumour cycle of being established and then denied, Mazda’s managing executive officer in charge of global sales and marketing, Masahiro Moro, told the Australian motoring media at today’s Los Angeles auto show that the sports car program has always been off.
“We never ever, put a program of a [rotary] sports car, that’s not on and off, that’s [just] off,” Moro said.
Nonetheless, the rotary engine still refuses to die, with Moro admitting that resources have been allocated to future development of the engine for different applications.
“[The] rotary engine development has continued, [the] engine development project itself we have not pulled out entire resources, we have allocated some resources to keep developing engines.”
Mazda is likely to use the rotary engine as a generator or as part of its hydrogen car development, with Moro also not ruling out using it as a normal standalone internal combustion engine at some point in the future. But the RX sports car revival remains just a dream for now.
“Somebody has some dream, that’s fine having dream, but from a business stand point, [we have a] very clear position, we don’t give up rotary engine development, we have continued to develop until it is more relevant to today’s environment, but do we put this engine into any mass production car? This project has not been ‘on’.”
The Mazda rotary program has been alive since the Japanese company’s first Wankel engine car went on sale in 1967, the Cosmo 110S. From there the RX-3 was produced from 1971 to 1978 before the RX-7 took over until 2002, and was later replaced by the RX-8 until 2012.
As it currently stands, potential for a new RX-7, RX-8 or RX-9 may still exist as part of Mazda's 100th birthday celebration in 2020, with the company potentially showcasing a concept RX sports car in the next few years.
For the moment, however, any RX program return seems unlikely.