May 31, 2007
Mazda celebrates 40 years of rotary engines
1967 Mazda Cosmo. Click image to enlarge
Hiroshima, Japan – Mazda yesterday celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first rotary engine-powered vehicle, the Cosmo Sport. As of the end of April 2007, the company has manufactured approximately 1,970,000 rotary vehicles over the four decades.
“The rotary engine symbolizes Mazda,” says Hisakazu Imaki, President and CEO. “It was born from the tireless efforts of our past leaders and a corporate culture which embraces tough challenges. Keeping this proud tradition going forward, we will continue our research and development of the rotary engine in accordance with the Sustainable Zoom-Zoom plan that we announced in March 2007. As Mazda’s next-generation eco-engine, the hydrogen rotary engine holds great promise and, in fact, is already running on public roads. Mazda will aspire to add new value to our rotary technologies by investing further in hydrogen rotary engine research and development.”
Near the end of the 1950s, many automakers worldwide dedicated resources to development rotary engines (RE), but most discontinued their efforts due to technical challenges inherent to the system. On May 30, 1967, Mazda commended sales of the world’s first dual-rotor RE car, the Cosmo Sport. It also introduced other vehicles including the Familia Rotary Coupe, Savanna, RX-7 and Eunos Cosmo.
Mazda became involved in motorsports in 1968, when RE cars started participating in races, and in 1991 the Mazda 787B became the only Japanese car ever to claim victory at the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race. Mazda RE vehicles have also claimed over 100 wins in the touring car series in Japan and the International Motor Sports Association series in the U.S.
The company launched its current RE vehicle, the RX-8, in April 2003. It is powered by the new-generation, naturally-aspirated RENESIS rotary engine, which is more compact, powerful and environmentally-friendly than its predecessors. The company is currently working on development of the hydrogen RE, and in February 2006 the RX-8 Hydrogen RE became the world’s first hydrogen RE vehicle to be commercially leased, with seven now on the road in Japan.