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Mazda Releases ’20th Anniversary’ Special Edition Roadster in Japan

The 20th Anniversary of the MX-5 Roadster, A.K.A. Miata in the U.S., truly is something to take note of.  Since its launch in 1989 the MX-5 has sold in excess of 860,000 units in approximately 60 countries.  After selling 800,000 units it was certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s most produced two-seat, open-top sports cars.

To commemorate 20 years of Mazda Roadster sales, Mazda Motor Corporation has released a Special Edition version for the Japanese Market.  The Mazda Roadster 20th Anniversary goes on sale today at all Mazda and Mazda Anfini dealerships nationwide.

The new 20th Anniversary is based on the MX-5 soft-top model with a six-speed manual transmission, while the VS Power Retractable Hard Top or RHT model is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission.

There are a host of features that sets the 20th Anniversary apart from the other MX-5 models.  Each unit only comes in Crystal White Pearl Mica, a first for the Mazda Roadster, with exclusive ’20th Anniversary’ badges on each side fender.  Clear front fog lights and bezels.  Black Alcantara or red leather seats appoint the interior with a heated option that has 5 temperature settings.

Owners will appreciate the soft padded door armrests and center console lid.  If they are anything like me, they will need them.  Sure to give the roadster gripping performance are the standard front strut tower bar and 205/45R17 tires with 17-inch aluminum wheels.

Tempted owners can plan on spending 2,860,000 Yen for the Soft-top and 3,120,910 Yen for the RHT model, $29,878.42 and $32,604.15 respectively.

A Brief Look Back So That We Can Look Forward

This is actually a copy of a rather old press release from October of 2008.  In fact some of you may already know about Mazda’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and have seen the RX-8 Hydrogen RE.

The reason I wanted to revisit this article in its entirety is because the momentum behind the green movement, and its effect on the automotive industry, is starting to show signs of not only picking up momentum, but accelerating toward a greener future.  We may see the infrastructure and availability necessary to support the Eco-Cars of the future alot sooner than anyone ever expected.

In fact, for the entire month of August I plan to focus on a few key developments in the industry.  They showcase clear plans in place for a new automotive industry, centered on responsible motoring, that will be a reality in just a few years.  For now thou enjoy a spark from that flame:

HIROSHIMA, Japan—Mazda Motor Corporation today introduced the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE (Rotary Engine) vehicle to Norway’s public roads in collaboration with the Norwegian national hydrogen project, HyNor. Initially, the RX-8 Hydrogen RE’s driving performance on Norwegian roads will be validated with a single vehicle, which will also be shown at various events. This marks the first time that a Mazda hydrogen rotary vehicle has been put into regular use on public roads outside Japan.

Mazda signed a memorandum of understanding with HyNor (Hydrogen Road of Norway) to participate in the project in November 2007. HyNor is a national project in the Kingdom of Norway that aims to establish a clean energy transport system based on hydrogen fuel. Beginning in fiscal year 2009, Mazda will provide approximately 30 RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles for the HyNor project under commercial lease contracts.

 

RX-8 Hydrogen RE handover ceremony

 

The RX-8 Hydrogen RE validation vehicle is being delivered in advance so that Mazda and HyNor can jointly assess its driving performance in Norway. It will also be exhibited at environmental and other events for potential customers who are interested in leasing a hydrogen vehicle.

“Up to now, real world use of Mazda’s hydrogen rotary vehicles has been limited to Japan. Participation in the HyNor project marks our advancement to the next stage,” says Akihiro Kashiwagi, Mazda’s program manager in charge of hydrogen RE development. “After we validate the first vehicle on Norwegian roads, we intend to deliver 30 more units under commercial lease contracts. We are pleased to be a part of the establishment of a society based on hydrogen energy in Norway. Mazda plans to use the wealth of data and experience that will result from this project for the further development of hydrogen vehicles.”

HyNor is a unique Norwegian initiative to demonstrate the implementation of a hydrogen energy infrastructure along a 580 kilometer route from Oslo to Stavanger in Norway. Hydrogen filling stations are being established along this transport corridor to enable refueling of hydrogen vehicles. The project aims to revolutionize transportation in Norway by encompassing buses, taxis and private cars, and varying types of transport systems, including urban, inter-city, regional and even long-distance transport. In August 2006, Mazda attended the ceremony to commemorate the opening of Norway’s first hydrogen filling station constructed by HyNor. This was also where the first on-road demonstration of a RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicle outside of Japan took place. Since April 2006, Mazda has delivered eight RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles to government bodies and enterprises in Japan under commercial lease contracts.

Mazda Hydrogen Technologies: http://www.mazda.com/csr/special_features/env/01-06-03.html

I highly encourage you to check out Mazda’s commitment to CSR: http://www.mazda.com/csr/

BMW to Exit Formula One at End of 2009 Season

In 1980, BMW announced entry into Formula One racing as an engine supplier. In 1991, a joint talent promotion campaign by BMW and ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club) allowed Formula One drivers like Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock, Adrian Sutil, Ralf Schumacher and Christian Klien to learn the basics of Formula Racing. Then BMW scored ten victories when it Joined Williams F1 in the 2000 season. In the middle of 2005, BMW acquired the Swiss team Sauber, took to the starting grid, and collected a total of 19 Grand Prix wins. By 2008, the new BMW Sauber F1 Team had established itself as one of the top three teams.

Now BMW is putting a close to yet another chapter in its motor sports history. In a press conference on July 29th, BMW Group announced that they have decided to pull out of Formula One at the end of the 2009 season; dedicating these resources to the development of new drive technologies and projects in the field of sustainability.

The BMW Group is rolling out that strategy in all areas within the BMW Group. “In addition, we initiated an internal change process that goes hand in hand with a new mindset throughout our workforce.” says Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. C02 and other emission requirements standards in the UK continue to be reduced. However sportiness and dynamics remain key attributes of all BMW models, albeit paired with responsibility. Being the world’s leading premium car-company in the automotive industry, Reithofer says, “We believe that this demands accountability.”, and is convinced that they must remain a positive role model within our society.

Reithofer continues:

In line with our Strategy Number ONE, we are continually reviewing all projects and initiatives to check them for future viability and sustainability. We made this clear with the initial announcement of our Strategy Number ONE. And, naturally, this also includes motor sports. And I have always been clear about my position on making tough decisions that will help ensure the BMW Group’s success over the long run. As our company places stronger focus on sustainability initiatives, our participation in Formula One becomes less a key promoter of this engagement. It goes without saying that this step was very difficult for us – as well as for me personally. On behalf of the entire Board of Management, I would like to express our immense gratitude to Mario Theissen for his commitment and successes. Everyone knows that the BMW brand embodies sportiness with sheer driving pleasure. Sportiness and fair competition are firmly encoded in our DNA. This is why we will remain loyal to motor sports. But we will do this in series that enable us to transfer technology more directly and to realize additional synergies, while strengthening our brand values. This is in our customers’ best interest. As a company, we are making a paradigm shift based on our Strategy Number ONE. We are setting new priorities in an ever-changing environment.

Having had great success in touring car, sports car, rally and Formula Two racing, BMW reports they will continue participation in the Formula BMW, Touring Car, ALMS and endurance races as well as their increasing activity in close-to-production customer sports and the Super Bike World Championship.

UK to use Lexus IS-F Cruisers to lineup

Want to discourage high speed police chases and at the same time set turn heads with your slick styling? Look no further than the UK who has replaced their AWD Impreza Police Fleet with brand new IS-F cruisers. Nothing like looking into your rear view to see the law in a 416HP V8 monster on your tail. Pull over your not going anywhere.

FD RX-7 Rant

I happened to be perusing one of my new favorite websites nextautos.com and came across an article for the 93 RX-7 that claimed it may be the greatest sports car of all time. I personally agree. The pixels weren’t even dry however before the reliability card was pulled. This being a sore spot of mine I had to chime in. Read my response below…

Let me dispel those reliability fears right now.

Its true the vast majority of examples belonging to the dead 7s society do so because of blown water seals, over heating, and shattered apex seals. However I just help but to take up a Jihad every time I hear that reliability card pulled on the RX-7.

If you cant tell from my defensive position on the subject, I’m a FD RX-7 owner who has seen the end of my own 13B engine and I can tell you one thing for a certainty, all of the horror stories you’ve heard about this car are all thanks to the poor maintenance habits of their negligent owners. I admit, I’m also part of that club.

What I’ve learned from my experience as I researched to complete my first rotary rebuild, is that that engine has to be absolutely pampered. The car needs to be warmed up and allowed to cool down. Not doing so degrades the oil very quickly in turbo cars which doesn’t make it easy for the turbos and apex seals to do their jobs. Its easy to understand the turbo side of things, however most don’t know that the RX-7 injects oil into the combustion chambers to lubricate those apex seals. I am convinced that if proper and timely oil changes are carried out, the seals would be well lubricated and not generate so much internal heat which I believe is most likely why water seals, which are very close to the combustion chambers to begin with, loosen and expand to failure. That having been said, the car does benefit greatly from minor cooling modifications as well.

Staying on top of those two issues alone would keep the vast majority of RX-7 owners out of a lot of trouble. Like me its not something many pay attention to when making their purchases and completely forget about the first time they experience wide open throttle past 4000 rpm. Make sure the life blood of your rotary is changed just a little sooner than you would in any other vehicle and keep it cool. This will make for a very long lasting RX-7 that will continue to provide oodles of fun every time you turn the key.

The rest of the conversation can be read here: http://www.nextautos.com/forums/keepers-buying-owning-and-driving-great-used-classic-cars/keepers-mazda-rx-7-best-japanese-sp#comment-123666

Fiat shows you how to do your part in helping the environment.

Our friends on the other side of the pond have added a new fuel saving feature, called eco:Drive, to there 5 door 5 passenger mini-MPV the Qubo. The latest in Fiat’s range to benefit from what Fiat says is both a fuel saving and emissions reducing technology.

The eco:Drive technology is currently available on the European versions of the 500, 500C, and Grande Punto. Thanks to their newly formed alliance with Chrysler we stand a good chance of seeing the eco:Drive technology applied to some of the new models Fiat will bring to the states. In January of ’09 Autoblog.com clued us into the introduction of the Fiat 500, 500C, Panda?, and Grande Punto into the American markets. All of which have available, as an option, Fiat’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder direct-injection engines that work with the new technology as an option.

Now environmentally conscious drivers can learn how to reduce their particular impact on the environment. eco:Drive Allows drivers to download a record of their driving style from car to computer with a USB memory stick, helps motorists understand the impact of their driving in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and offers suggestions on how to improve efficiency further by changing driving habits.

We want our cars to be fun, but they must also be practical and environmentally-friendly,” says Andrew Humberstone, managing director, Fiat Group Automobiles UK. “Offering eco:Drive on Qubo will help to spread the benefits of this technology, helping drivers to improve their driving efficiency, saving fuel and reducing their impact on the environment.”

Launched by Fiat in 2008, the free-of-charge, award-winning system is available on www.fiat.co.uk/ecoDrive.