Mazda rotary engine technology lives on. Since the last rotary powered RX-8 sports car was retired in 2012 there has been much speculation on when we would see another Mazda rotary engine in production.
In 2017 Mazda celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the first rotary powered production vehicle. Even though rotary power had been benched, research and development has continued to refine the technology and adapt it to other fuel sources including diesel and hydrogen.
Kenichi Yamamoto who led the effort to mass produce the rotary engine passed away in December 2017 at age 95. Known as the architect of the Mazda rotary he directed development in the 1960’s and later became Mazda’s president in 1985 and chairman in 1987. In addition to his many accomplishments with rotary while president he paved the way for production of the Miata.
A teaser in 2015 at the Tokyo Motor show of a RX-9 concept car fitted with a Skyactiv-R rotary engine has kept hope alive for fans that another rotary sports car may be on the way. There is confirmation that rotary research continues and rumors from development managers that a next generation rotary engine sports car is in the pipeline.
Who knew that underneath Mazda’s Research and Development facility in Irvine, California there is a basement full of historic Mazda vehicles. Not too surprising that Mazda would preserve a museum of heritage cars, but these vehicles are not there just for display, they are maintained to be ready to drive.
For those who enjoy tinkering on classic vehicles, to be in charge of keeping Mazda’s Heritage Collection of about 80 cars road ready would be a dream come true. Mazda Motorsports Engineer Randy Miller has this dream job of curator, restoration artist, race car engineer, fabricator and maintenance mechanic.
Randy’s dad helped him work on his own cars that led to an automotive degree. After some time at Mazda’s service shop he became a R&D engineering technician that led to a full-time position with the Heritage Collection.
Mazda continues to push to make its vehicles stand out from the crowd. Allowing its designers to have more freedom than most manufacturers to inject life and soul into the vehicles they are creating. It is a philosophy Mazda calls KODO – soul of motion.
At Mazda’s Master Craft event in Los Angeles the similarities between Mazda design clay modelers and artisan bread makers became apparent. Unlike other car companies who only use computers in new vehicle design, Mazda’s modeled-by-hand design using clay is present in every step of the design process. Using clay models rather than computers and mathematics can make a car’s crisp exterior lines seemingly disappear, evoking emotion through its more fluid form instead of being “boxy and boring.” Artisan bakers agreed that “Like clay modeling, we shape every loaf by hand. It’s all about scale, shape and creating an out-of-this-world product.”
Mazda uses more clay than any other manufacturer in its KODO design process. KODO design is about “creating cars that embody the dynamic beauty of life – cars that visually suggest different expressions of this energy”. While the initial digital design model visualizes the fine details and specific materials of a vehicle, it is the sculpting from clay that brings it to life, something Mazda believes is impossible to replicate digitally.
The recently introduced C-HR (Coupe High-Rider) is a CUV (crossover utility vehicle) that comes with a pretty long list of standard features like alloy wheels, bucket seating, and 7-inch audio display, but still leaves room for some genuine Toyota accessories to customize it to your needs.
Toyota went out of its way to give the C-HR some unique sporty good looks and didn’t hold back on enhanced performance tweaks to the powertrain, suspension, and braking. Top that off with state of the art safety features like Pre-Collision Active Braking, Pedestrian Detection camera and radar, Lane Departure Alert, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Automatic High Beams to name a few and you might think you have it all, but let’s get back to the accessorizing essentials.
The Hyundai Tucson fuel cell crossover was introduced in 2014 as the first mass produced fuel cell electric vehicle in the U.S. Having driven over 3 million miles on California roads and highways it is estimated that instead of emitting over 1,140 tons of CO2 emissions they have emitted only clean water vapor.
2017 Tucson Fuel Cell
The current Tucson Fuel Cell CUV has a number of advantages over some other alternative fuels. The energy-rich hydrogen fuel provides an estimated driving range of 265 miles between fill-ups, similar to many gasoline vehicles. The Tucson Fuel Cell can be refilled with hydrogen in less than five minutes, about the same time as a typical gasoline vehicle. While it performs just as strongly as an internal combustion engine, its only emission is water. And it’s just as quiet as a standard electric vehicle while going farther on a single fuel fill-up versus a single electric full charge.
It was October 31, 1957 when Toyota opened its North American headquarters in a once Rambler dealership in Hollywood, California. With them came the first Japanese car to be exported to and sold in the mainland United States. The Toyopet Crown.
The Toyopet was not initially a success story. A few problems hampered its acceptance. Starting with the name, broken down both Toy and Pet left it hard to be taken seriously in the U.S. car market. While it performed alright on Japan’s poor quality road network, it struggled to keep pace on America’s smooth, fast-flowing blacktop. When it eventually got to 60mph, a speed that was rare in Japan, the car apparently shuddered so much the driver couldn’t see out of the rear-view mirror.
Mazda recently unveiled two concept models, the Mazda KAI CONCEPT and the Mazda VISION COUPE at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show. The new models are a continuance of Mazda’s new design philosophy: KODO – Soul of Motion. A philosophy to use design to breathe life to a car and make it more than a means of transportation or a mass of metal.
Mazda intends to go forward into future model designs with goal of bringing energy and rhythm to create even more elegant cars. The Mazda KAI CONCEPT compact hatchback features the next-generation SKYACTIV-X gasoline engine and advanced SKYACTIV-Vehicle Architecture. It boasts refinements in all areas of dynamic performance to produce a dramatically quieter, more comfortable ride and an enhanced performance feel. The KODO design features muscular, solid proportions and the use of reflections over the body sides to bring it to life.