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Mazda RX not dead

The RX-8 (GT pictured) continues in the Australian catalogue until at least 2012 despite falling sales here.

The rotary-powered sports car has just been dumped in the USA but, just as happened in 1995 when America killed the RX-7 early because of slow sales, it will roll on here.

The RX-8 continues in Mazda's Australian catalogue until at least 2012 despite falling sales here, with only 52 sold in the seven months of 2011 against 156 at the same time last year. Just four cars were delivered in July, according to official VFacts figures, compared with 18 in July 2010.

"RX-8 is alive and kicking. Production has not stopped," says Doug Dickson, managing director of Mazda Australia. Dickson believes this year's local results are being judged unfairly because of the supply problems from Japan.

"Production and sales of RX-8 within Australia are ongoing. 2011 production of RX-8 was affected by the Tsunami. Sales in Australia, year-to-date July, are 52 making 6361 units in total since sales commenced in July 2003."

The situation is different in other countries, as the RX-8 was pulled from Europe last year when its unique rotary engine could not meet toughening emissions standards in some countries. In the USA, the car has been hit by the weakness of the American dollar against the Japanese yen that has contributed to first-half losses at Mazda USA of close to $100 million.

Despite falling support for the RX-8, Mazda is continuing development of the rotary engine.

"The rotary engine is part of Mazda's heritage and its development continues," says Dickson.

Apart from hydrogen power for the rotary, Mazda has also been working on direct fuel injection and other changes for a next-generation powerplant known as the 16X. It was previewed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2007 with the promise of lower emissions, better economy and more power, but has been overtaken by the latest SkyActiv technologies developed by Mazda for all its models led by the next Mazda3.