Mazda Motor Corp. has stopped the manufacturing of its RX-8 rotary engine sports vehicle for good, because of the drop in sales and the strict international emissions standards. The production halted in early July in Hiroshima, Japan. The worldwide sales of the vehicle will conclude later this year.
The vehicle, along with three generations of the RX-7 that preceded it, has been the foundation of the brand’s fun-to-drive image for a long time now. The vehicle’s high-revving 1.3-liter, twin-rotor rotary engine has an output of 232 hp at 8,500 rpm, which is a big achievement in a relatively small package.
However, the company has sold only around 1,134 RX-8s in 2010, which is a 49 percent drop from 2009. Sales through July 2011 declined another 21 percent. The RX-8 has a base price of $27,590 including shipping.
Its sales peaked at 23,690 in 2004. However, the first-generation RX-7 surpassed 50,000 vehicles throughout the early parts of the 1980s. As of August 1, the U.S. dealers of Mazda had 300 units in stock for a 118-day supply, according to the data from the Automotive News Data Center.
The company pulled out the RX-8 from the European region in 2010 after the vehicle failed to meet the standards on local emissions. A company insider disclosed that Mazda could not justify selling the RX-8 without volume from Europe. In addition, exporting cars from Japan has become more difficult.
For one, the yen’s strengthened value against the dollar has been identified as the main reason why the company’s North American operating losses between April and June increased more than three times to ¥7.9 billion, or around $97.6 million, from the same period in 2010.
This is not the first incident that the company halted its rotary engine sports vehicle from the U.S. lineup. The RX-7 was removed after the 1995 model year. A rotary-powered vehicle only came back to U.S. showrooms after the 2003 launch of the RX-8.