Cars affect the environment in various ways according to such factors as geographic area, vehicle characteristics and type of fuel. For this reason, Mazda considered it necessary to develop an approach using multiple solutions.
Within this approach, Mazda is forging ahead with research into such fields as the development of highly efficient clean engine and hybrid technologies, and the use of biomass and hydrogen fuels.
Through these efforts, Mazda is the world's only manufacturer to mass produce vehicles equipped with rotary engines and to utilize the characteristics of the rotary engine to lead new initiatives in developing the hydrogen rotary engine. The construction of the rotary engine is well suited to hydrogen fuel and, compared with reciprocating engines, it ignites faster and eliminates abnormal combustion(backfiring), which helps maintain efficient combustion.
Mazda introduced the world's first practical hydrogen rotary engine in February 2006 when it began commercial leasing of the RX-8 Hydrogen RE. When using hydrogen as its combustion fuel, the RX-8 Hydrogen RE achieves zero emissions of CO2 - the ultimate environmental performance.
Because the RX-8 Hydrogen RE uses a dual-fuel system, it can also run on gasoline and is therefore highly practical even though there are currently only 10 hydrogen refueling stations in Japan.
We are not resting on our laurels, however, with the hydrogen rotary engine, nor do we see it as just a temporary stop gap measure during the transition to a hydrogen energy society. Hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles will surely be a part of the automotive future, and no matter which vehicle consumers choose, we can say this is a Zoom-Zoom eco-car.
Mazda exhibited the RX-8 Hydrogen RE at the ONS 2006 energy exhibition in Norway in August 2006, where it performed its first overseas demonstration drive. Domestically, seven RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles were in use in business or research institutes at the end of FY2006.