The first oil shock hit automobile manufacturers at the start of the 1970s. Mazda's competitors aborted development and production of rotary engines on account of poor fuel efficiencies. Mazda alone persevered, eventually solving the fuel efficiency issues. By constantly building on the various merits of the engine, Mazda finally reached the mass production stage. Years later, we discovered that the rotary engine is actually well suited to hydrogen fuel applications.
Hydrogen, which ignites moreeasily than gasoline exacerbates the reciprocal engine's susceptibility to backfiring (abnormal combustion in the superheated combustion chamber intake). However, in the rotary engine, the air-intake chamber and the combustion chamber are separate structures so backfiring is unlikely to occur and stable combustion is ensured. Mazda is the only company in the world that is successfully mass-producing the rotary engine. As this mass-production engine was used as a basis for the RX-8 Hydrogen RE, development and manufacturing costs were vastly curtailed, allowing the vehicle to be competitively priced. The standard monthly lease price of about ¥420,000 is more economic than fuel cell electric vehicles. It makes it is easier for customers to adopt clean energy vehicles.
The Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE has a dual-fuel system that allows the vehicle to run on either hydrogen or gasoline, making it extremely accessible for customers. At present there are only about 15 hydrogen stations in Japan, so until the hydrogen supply infrastructure is expanded throughout every region, the gasoline option will provide customers with peace of mind during long journeys.
Passing on Resources and a Sustainable Environment to Our Children
In the future, oil resources will be best employed not as fuel, but as raw materials for chemical products that can be made only from petroleum. If fuels other than oil are used to power automobiles, we can save this portion of our valuable oil reserves and pass it down to our children for use in the future.
In the past, I have been engaged in the development of mass-production rotary-engine vehicles and alternative-fuel vehicles, including electric cars. When I reflect on the development of the RX-8 Hydrogen RE, I feel deeply grateful to my predecessors who persevered in building rotary engines.
It is our mission to evolve Mazda's unique technologies. I shall endeavor to continue doing so in order to pass down valuable resources and a sustainable environment to the next generation.
Manager of the Hydrogen Energy Division Iwatani International Corporation
Mazda's Products Play an Important Role in Propelling us Toward a Hydrogen Powered Society
Our company has been at the forefront of the hydrogen industry, involved in producing and supplying hydrogen for approximately 50 years. We welcome the application of hydrogen energies across society and are conducting various promotional and publicity activities to that end. In these campaigns, we believe that hands-on experience enhances understanding better than words, so we have leased a Mazda hydrogen rotary-engine car to supplement our two fuel cell electric vehicles.
The stylish RX-8 Hydrogen RE is a hit with our clients, and many people ask to have their photographs taken posing in the driving seat. This makes it a highly useful tool in publicity events that promote a hydrogen powered society. By increasing the number of hydrogen filling stations, our company will strive to bolster the spread of clean energy.