Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Mazda's senior managing executive officer, revealed to Australian motoring media at the 2017 Tokyo show that the company had simply run out of time and resources to bring the rotary-powered coupe to production in time for the brand’s centenary in 2020.
Fujiwara also detailed further information about the production car, including a plan to offer both a pure rotary model and a version equipped with a part-time electric drivetrain.
The reason for the delayed introduction stems from the massive engineering effort Mazda has devoted to its revolutionary compression ignition Skyactiv-X engine and second generation Skyactiv chassis, according to Fujiwara.
“If we achieve success [with Skyactiv-X] probably we can have money enough to invest in the next challenge, then we can judge to go ahead,” Fujiwara said.
He added: “It’s going to be too late to make the RX-Vision for the centennial.”
The changed development timeline has also caused a shift in the future RX model’s engineering. In order to meet increasingly strict emissions targets and the impending banning of internal combustion engines in some cities and countries around the world, Fujiwara revealed it will have to be electrified.
“In 2020 we cannot provide RX-Vision in the market, we will not have enough money to invest in commercializing RX-Vision,” he said.
“But we have still been developing rotary engines as a sports car. Technology is going well but if we launch, we will launch this model later and we have to add another technology into this RX-Vision. Like autonomous driving, electrification... [environmental regulations] cannot allow for only internal combustion engine. Some of the cities completely ban so some electrification is needed. It’s coming later so we have to consider this kind of technologies have to be installed, so these kind of technologies have to be developed even for the RX-Vision.”
Although Fujiwara refrained from giving a detailed explanation, he indicated the most likely scenario would see the electrified version of the RX utilise its rotary engine for high performance driving but use the electric components in urban environments.
“Some countries we don’t need this electrification, only ICE [Internal Combustion Engine], therefore pure rotary engines we can utilise for this country we can utilise the engine as a pure sports car,” he said.
Fujiwara has championed the return of rotary for Mazda, both as a performance engine but also as a range extender for its planned first electric car due before the end of the decade. As such Mazda is developing two different types of rotary engines.
“2019 or 2020 we release the EV with range extender rotary engine, this is completely a range extender unit. Because that is one the merits of the rotary engines so we have to utilise it for range extender. That is one of the rotaries,” he said.
“The other one is the one rotary fans have been waiting for, a sports car with rotary engine. Therefore we have been developing still a rotary engined sports car with no range extender, no e-power, purely an internal combustion engine.”
Fujiwara also poured water on a revival of the four-door RX-8, dismissing any chance the stunning “four door coupe” Vision Coupe concept unveiled in Tokyo could make production alongside the RX-Vision.
“No, just one. Lightweight sports car,” he said.
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