Piston engines have been in use almost since automobiles began to be manufactured. To distinguish itself from other automakers, Mazda invested in the development of the Wankel rotary engine. These engines were not as fuel-efficient as traditional piston engines, but they experienced much less wear. After a car with a rotary engine won the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race in 1991, rotary engines were excluded from the race for several years before being reinstated. Recently, Mazda developed a rotary engine which runs on hydrogen.
In Japan, where urban populations are highly concentrated, streets are narrow and space is at a premium, the Mazda three-wheeled trucks were a practical means of transporting goods. Today, the need to conserve fuel has caused Europeans and Americans to consider using similar small vehicles for transportation in urban areas.
Like other automakers, Mazda is continually working to lessen the environmental impact of its vehicles and developing ways to recycle used vehicle parts. One such initiative is the collection of damaged plastic bumpers so that they can be recycled and the plastic re-used in new bumpers.
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