If you felt a disturbance in the force last Friday, it was because an automotive era had come to an end - Mazda's Renesis rotary engine is no more.
Mazda has been telling the world of the benefits of the rotary since 1961, but a lack of funds and the increasing importance of efficiency has meant a bitter end for the unique engine.
"Production of the RX-8 will end, but the rotary engine will live on as an important part of Mazda's spirit," Mazda President Takashi Yamanouchi said this week.
Mazda's recent R&D efforts have been diverted towards SkyActiv petrol and diesels as well as a new transmission.
The Renesis soldiered on in the RX-8, but with production of that model ceasing, there is no home for 'the rotor.'
It has also become something of a luxury to produce: Mazda is the only Japanese car company not turning a profit. In 2010, just 2900 RX-8s rolled off the line. An unsustainably low number, even for a company like Mazda.
Mazda has assured fans that it is working hard to find a new model in which to put rotary technology. As recently as April, Mazda's US VP, Robert Davis told Car and Driver that the rotary would be ideal as a generator for a hybrid SKYACTIV.
In March, Mazda's head of powertrain development, Mitsuo Hitomi, said that the carmaker's engineers had found a way to improve the engine's efficiency.
Rotary fans can hold on to both of these glimmers of hope, but one thing is for sure - the Renesis as we know it has entered the Great Automotive Pantheon.
I knew it was coming, and I thought I was prepared for it, but, dammit, there's something in my eye.
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