HIROSHIMA -- It was the technology that created Cosmo Sports, the world's first dual rotary engine car, and shot Mazda Motor Corp. into the global spotlight in 1967.

Since then, Japan's fifth-largest automaker has sold roughly 1.8 million rotary engines, a power plant that, though small, generates more power for its size than piston-driven engines.

With a history of economic problems balanced by the success of its rotary engines, Mazda will introduce a new rotary engine-powered vehicle -- the RX-8 four-seat sports car -- on the Japanese market in April. It will be released in the U.S. and Europe in the summer.