Mazda2019s rotary engine vehicle turns 40

Posted on May 31, 2007 by

May 30 marked
the 40th anniversary of Mazda’s first rotary engine powered vehicle. As of the
end of April 2007, Mazda has manufactured approximately 1,970,000 rotary
vehicles since production first began.

Near the end of
the 1950s, many automakers around the world dedicated considerable research
& development resources for the development of the rotary engine (RE), but
most discontinued their efforts because they were unable to surmount the
formidable technical challenges inherent to the technology. Mazda alone
persevered, eventually overcoming these obstacles and successfully achieved RE
mass production. On May 30, 1967, Mazda commenced sales of the world’s first
dual-rotor RE car, the Cosmo Sport. Following this, Mazda introduced other RE
vehicles to the market, including the Familia Rotary Coupe, Savanna, RX-7 and
Eunos Cosmo. With a number of improvements in fuel economy and environmental
performance over the years, Mazda vehicles equipped with RE engines continue to
be produced.

Mazda began its
involvement in motor sports in 1968, following the release of the Cosmo Sport,
when RE cars started participating in car races. In 1991, the Mazda 787B made
rotary engine history when it became the only Japanese car ever to claim
victory at the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race. Additionally, with over 100 wins
in both the touring car series in Japan
and in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) series in the United States,
RE-equipped race cars have enjoyed a glittering record of success.

The RX-8 sports
car, launched in April 2003 employs the new generation, naturally-aspirated
RENESIS rotary engine, which is more compact, powerful and environmentally friendly
than its predecessors. Currently, Mazda is advancing with its development of
the hydrogen RE, which emits no carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the gases
responsible for global warming. Development of the hydrogen RE started in 1991
and has thus far resulted in the RX-8 Hydrogen RE, which in February 2006
became the world’s first hydrogen RE vehicle to be commercially leased.
Currently, seven hydrogen RE vehicles are on the road in Japan under
commercial lease.

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