Mazda RX-8 production comes to an end

Article by Christian A., on August 24, 2011

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 Mazda 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 Japanese carmaker 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 Mazda RX-8 has a base price of $27,590 including shipping.

Its sales peaked at 23,690 in 2004. However, the first-generation Mazda 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 Japanese 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.

It has already been confirmed that Mazda is not planning a hybrid RX-9 sports car that would succeed the RX-8, which was launched in 2003. Since then, the RX-8 has reaped more than 50 global awards like the 2003 RJC Car of the Year (Japan), Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 2003 (Australia) as well as 2003 International Engine of the Year.

Its other accolades include 2004 Singapore Car of the Year, the 2004 United States Best Sports Car and UK Car of the Year 2004. It was also on the Ten Best list of Car and Driver magazine in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

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