MAZDA WRITES OFF ROTARY
Mazda won't stop researching the potential for a new rotary engine, but it won't be introducing one anytime soon.
That's the gist of comments from new Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai, speaking in a candid interview with industry paper Automotive News this week.
What this latest turn means for a new RX-7 is unclear, but it now appears certain that a return is off the cards. (An RX-7 without a rotary? Surely not. - Ed)
Speaking with Automotive News, the no-nonsense Kogai said that the dynamics of the modern market would demand a high sales forecast for any engine design.
In the case of a rotary engine, that means around 100,000 sales each year.
"It has to be a viable commercial proposition. If we are going to adopt it, it has to be a product that can generate at least sales of 100,000 units a year. We have to be able to achieve a profit," he said.
Kogai also touched on the difficulty of meeting today's strict emissions regulations - regulations that are only going to become tighter in the future.
All of this comes on the heel of a TMR interview with Mazda sports car chief Nobuhiro Yamamoto in 2012, who confirmed that a new RX-7 was in the works for a 2017 debut.
Yamamoto's comments followed reports in 2012 that Mazda had approved plans for a new rotary based on its SkyActiv engine technology.
But, with Kogai appointed CEO in May this year, it is clear that changes have been made to the carmaker's future plans.
Kogai will not be inclined to gamble the company's steady growth against the return of an old fan-favourite and its legendary heart.
Still, it may not be all over just yet.
"We are the first and only manufacturer to commercialize the rotary engine. In that respect, we have some responsibility," Kogai said. "So please allow us to continue our research."