Mazda to go green power

A hy­dro­gen pow­ered RX-9 is on the hori­zon, writes PETER LYON in Ja­pan

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

ARADICAL makeover of the Mazda RX-7 will bring some­thing new to show­rooms in 2012. It will be called the RX-9 and it will run on hy­dro­gen.

There have been ru­mours about the fu­ture of the RX-7 al­most from the day Mazda re­vealed the new four-door RX-8 in 2001.

The fam­ily friendly RX-8 has never hit the same sweet spot as the ear­lier two-door RX-7, gar­gling more petrol and burn­ing more oil than just about any pro­duc­tion car around.

Now Mazda in­sid­ers say the RX8 will cease pro­duc­tion by the end of 2009, with its re­place­ment to be mor­phed with a born-again RX-7, most likely with an RX-9 badge.

The new-age RX-7 will not only take on a rad­i­cal new de­sign, but will also em­ploy a unique makeover of Mazda’s sig­na­ture ro­tary en­gine.

The com­pany has re­alised the only way to keep the ro­tary alive is to clean up its im­age and make it more earth-con­scious. That means im­prov­ing its fuel econ­omy, re­duc­ing its oil con­sump­tion and emis­sions, while main­tain­ing the su­perb han­dling and ride.

The an­swer is a dual-fuel up­date, so the RX-9 will be pow­ered by a new ro­tary hy­dro­gen hy­brid unit that can run on ei­ther hy­dro­gen or petrol.

Mazda has been ex­per­i­ment­ing with hy­dro­gen-fu­elled ro­tary mo­tors for two years in an RX-8 and, more re­cently, in the Premacy mini­van.

The RX-9 is ex­pected to be rear­wheel drive, with man­ual or au­to­matic trans­mis­sions, and should gen­er­ate up to 20 per cent bet­ter econ­omy and sub­stan­tially im­proved emis­sions than cur­rent test mules.

But, given that power falls by about 20 per cent when switched to hy­dro­gen mode, Mazda en­gi­neers en­vis­age driv­ers us­ing green hy­dro­gen power for city driv­ing and then flick­ing to petrol mode when more per­for­mance is re­quired.

Su­per­seded: Mazda’s RX-8 GT will cease pro­duc­tion by the end of 2009 in favour of the new RX-9.

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