Report: No Plans for Mazda RX-8 Successor, Says CEO
It feels like there's always some new rumor popping up about a Mazda RX-8 successor, but company CEO Masamichi Kogai says they're all bunk. Kogai told Automotive News that there are no plans to resurrect the Mazda RX-8 or RX-7, because the company needs to focus on perfecting its mainstream, Skyactiv-powered vehicles.
"We don't have [an RX] kind of vehicle in our product plan," Kogai told AN. "If you increase the number of segments, then the resources we can allocate to each will decline and that will prevent us from developing truly good products."
Rumors about another rotary-powered sports car started swirling even before the Mazda RX-8 went out of production in 2012. The idea was that Mazda would use lessons learned from its Skyactiv technologies to improve the engine's efficiency with direct fuel injection, while reducing emissions. Another blip on the radar came in July, when whispers arose that there would be a Mazda RX-7 coming in 2017 with a 450-hp turbocharged rotary engine. Two months later, the Mazda RX-8's designer came forward saying that he hasn't given up on the idea of a new rotary-powered RX sports car.
Throughout this saga, Mazda has maintained that an RX-8 successor isn't shelved forever, but the priority for now has to be making its current line of vehicles more profitable. Mazda's strategy will be to devote its energy to the future of the Skyactiv internal combustion engine in mainstream car applications. While every model in Mazda's U.S. range—excluding the Mazda 5 van and the CX-9 SUV—either currently offers or will soon offer a Skyactiv internal combustion engine, Mazda faces an uphill battle against research and development giants like Honda, Nissan, and Toyota.
"We want to focus our limited resources on the Skyactiv products that we have today," Kogai told AN.
Right now, Mazda Skyactiv vehicles offer competitive fuel economy and superb driving dynamics, but the going will only get tougher in the coming years as government efficiency regulations tighten. To help keep competitors at bay, Mazda is planning a new generation of Skyactiv engines earmarked for 2020. The goal is for 30 percent better fuel economy than the current Skyactiv line, which will keep Mazda within acceptable European emissions standards which are set to go into effect the same year.
Dubbed Skyactiv 2, the next-gen internal combustion engines will use an even higher compression ratio of 18:1, combined with a new homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) system. HCCI employs high pressure and temperature within the combustion chamber to ignite the fuel-air mixture without use of a conventional spark plug. Several other automakers, including Hyundai, are also experimenting with the technology.
Despite the large focus on improving mainstream models, Mazda hasn't abandoned sports cars altogether. The Skyactiv-powered 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has already been revealed, and there are rumors of a new Mazdaspeed3 coming in 2016 with 300+ hp and all-wheel drive.