Mazda Motor Corp. has canceled production of its RX-8 rotary engine sports car, citing falling sales and stringent global emissions standards.
Production in Hiroshima, Japan, ended in early July and global sales of the car will conclude later this year.
The RX-8 and the three generations of the RX-7 that preceded it have long been the foundation the brand's fun-to-drive aura. The car's high-revving 1.3-liter, twin-rotor rotary engine produces 232 hp at 8,500 rpm -- a big punch in a relatively small package.
But Mazda sold just 1,134 RX-8s last year, a 49 percent decline from 2009. Sales through July of 2011 were down another 21 percent.
The RX-8, which has a base price of $27,590, including shipping, peaked at 23,690 sales in 2004. But the first-generation RX-7 surpassed 50,000 units throughout the early 1980s.
Mazda's U.S. dealers had 300 units in stock as of Aug. 1 for a 118-day supply, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Mazda pulled the RX-8 from the European market last year after the car failed to meet local emissions standards. Without volume from Europe, Mazda couldn't justify selling the RX-8, a Mazda source said.
Exporting vehicles from Japan also has become more difficult. The yen's rise vs. the dollar was a major reason why Mazda's North American operating losses from April through June grew nearly threefold to ¥7.9 billion, or about $97.6 million, from the same quarter last year.