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.