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Mazda MX-5 Development Story – Video Blog

tempLightweight sports cars first appeared in the years following the Second World War, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that small, affordable and fun roadsters reached the height of their popularity. By fitting engines from standard sedans into compact and light vehicle bodies, automakers could provide exciting performance and agile handling that was also affordable. The lightweight sports car allowed average Europeans to enjoy exhilarating driving on a daily basis.
tempThe 1970s saw the introduction of much stricter safety and emissions regulations in the US, the world’s largest automobile market. Since most of the lightweight sports cars were open top, they lacked the structural integrity provided by a roof. To meet the regulations, manufacturers instead added large shock absorbing bumpers or extra steel to increase body rigidity, which made the cars much heavier. In order to meet the new emissions regulations, many companies resorted to reducing the engine output. This was a tough period for the lightweight sports car, and as people’s expectations began to diminish, the roadsters disappeared from the market one after another.

In the early 1980s, with the lightweight sports car segment all but extinct, Mazda’s engineers conceived a dream for a modern compact two-seater. One engineer, who would go on to lead the development of the first generation Mazda Miata MX-5, was convinced that Mazda needed a unique product to help it stand out from the other Japanese brands, and passionately appealed to management to build a lightweight roadster.
Eventually, despite significant resistance from some of Mazda’s senior executives, the visionary engineer’s passion convinced the planning department in the R&D Division to take the first step.
Three alternative drive systems
Many different ideas were submitted in the planning phase. Layout proposals included front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD) and even a mid-engine setup. The development team pored over early design sketches, and every aspect was discussed at great length, even as to whether it would be a convertible or a coupe.
Most small sports cars in the 1960s had an engine at the front with rear-wheel drive. By the 1970s, many mass produced vehicles had been switched to front-wheel drive (FWD). Although it went against the traditional concept of a sports car, this layout was much easier to build and provided greater flexibility in terms of engine and drivetrain combinations. The mid-engine layout, in which the engine is positioned near the center of the car and power is transmitted through the rear, shares the same advantages because the FWD engine and drivetrain can easily be carried over.
In order to minimize development and production costs, the best approach would have been to replace the body of a compact FWD car with a new sports car body, or perhaps reposition the engine and drivetrain for a mid-engine layout. Both options would allow the retail price to be kept low, and so provide the best chance for Mazda to bring back the lightweight sports car.
However, the agile handling and a linear driving feel that had made the original lightweight sports cars famous would be almost impossible to achieve without a RWD layout. For Mazda, this meant an entirely new powertrain would have to be developed, which would require a sizeable investment. In the end, despite the added cost, the engineers agreed that they had no choice but to pursue the ideals of a lightweight sports car.

Once the combination of RWD layout and an open-top body had been agreed on, the engineers coined the development concept, “Jinba Ittai” (which means “rider and horse as one”) to express the type of fun-to-drive roadster they intended to build. “Jinba Ittai” continues to symbolize each new generation of MX-5 and ensures that it will always remain true to Mazda’s original dream of a lightweight sports car.

Mazda’s MX-5 roadster is not an imitation of the lightweight sports cars of the 1960s. It is a purely Japanese car that was designed to achieve global appeal. The Japanese phrase “Jinba Ittai” (which means ”rider and horse as one) expresses the essence of Japanese culture that is incorporated in the vehicle.
The development team focused on stripping off everything that was not necessary while maximizing the character of the vehicle. To control unnecessary weight gain, the engineers restrained their desire for greater engine output and more features. While pushing the limits of cost reductions, they were never hesitant to take bold engineering steps and break new ground in the name of “Jinba Ittai.”
Examples of this include the aluminum hood, which lowers the center of gravity and improves steering stability and accuracy. Also, a standard cast iron exhaust pipe was rejected in favor of a stainless steel version in order to achieve an ideal exhaust gas flow. It was clear from the start that this sports car was going to be different.
Demand for improved safety finally drove the original lightweight sports cars of the 1970s to extinction. Achieving the required safety performance while keeping vehicle weight down was just as challenging for the MX-5’s developers. Computer analysis, which had been nonexistent in the 1970s, played a key role in the revival of the lightweight sports car. It is no coincidence that the MX-5 program manager was an expert in vehicle body engineering. By fully utilizing the latest computer analysis technologies, the team managed to build a light and rigid body which met modern safety requirements.
As Japan has a rainy season each year, there are relatively few convertibles on the roads. However, Mazda’s development team chose to remain faithful to the “Jinba Ittai” concept and purposefully picked a manually operated soft top. They also rejected proposals for a 2+2 seat layout in order to concentrate on a pure two-seat roadster. These and other difficult decisions ensured the MX-5 would be as light as possible.
A linear driving feel

The team narrowed down the possible engine choices to a 4-cylinder 16-valve 1.6-liter inline DOHC engine. They decided to stick to natural aspiration, without any turbo or supercharger. The MX-5’s Jinba Ittai-infused fun-to-drive character was realized by neither a surprisingly high output nor advanced engine control technologies.

While keeping mechanical losses and engine resistance as low as possible, the team achieved a smooth engine power curve and linear acceleration up to the rev limit; characteristics that provide an exhilarating experience for the driver.

In order to ensure adequate feedback when changing gears, engineers created a “powerplant frame” to rigidly connect the transmission and differential. It significantly enhanced the performance feel and became an essential technical element in the evolution of the MX-5.

For the suspension system, the development team chose a double wishbone setup for all four wheels, due to its superior dynamic characteristics. Despite the extra complexity this involved, the engineers never thought of compromising in their pursuit of the best possible sports car. The suspension is another reflection of the engineers’ dedication to “Jinba Ittai.”

Captivating design is an essential element of a successful sports car. The design of the MX-5 was initiated at Mazda North America (MANA), a development center located in California. In January 1986, it was decided that the R&D team in Japan would take over, and that summer the design base moved to Hiroshima with an almost-finished clay model.
Even at this stage, there were still doubts that the MX-5 would ever reach production. Some people still questioned the market potential of a lightweight sports car. To test this, a full-scale plastic body prototype was made from one of the design proposals and brought to the US in April 1987. Members of the public with an interest in cars were invited to preview the design. Of the 220 participants, 57 responded that they “would definitely buy it if it hit the market.” With the US being the world’s largest automobile market, this result had a strong influence on the decision makers at Mazda.
Having successfully survived this early crisis, development continued and the design was finalized five months later. Two years after that, in spring 1989, Mazda’s compact roadster went on sale in the US, with sales in Japan commencing in September. Japan had been without an exciting car that could connect directly with the driver’s emotions for a long time, and the MX-5, known in Japan as the Eunos Roadster, surprised many people with its instant success.
The Mazda MX-5 achieved more than a boost to Mazda’s sales figures; it triggered a number of other automakers to produce their own open-top sports cars. As a result, it brought about a 1990s revival of the lightweight sports car that had disappeared at the end of the 1970s. The MX-5 proved that lightweight sports cars can have a universal appeal. This achievement was made possible by the advancement of automotive technologies and the passion of Mazda’s engineers.
The World’s luckiest car
The Mazda MX-5 was born in the hearts of automotive engineers and brought to fruition through their aspirations. Beloved by drivers around the world since its debut, it was certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s highest production two-seat open top sports car in May 2000 (with 531,890 units produced between April 1989 and the end of October 1999). MX-5 sales continued to increase around the world, and Guinness updated the record when production passed 800,000 units in January 2007.

Even today, the “Jinba Ittai” spirit lives on in the third generation MX-5. The latest version of Mazda’s iconic roadster was born from the belief that “Only a very few sports cars possess the enduring spirit seen in the MX-5.”

It is this passion that makes Mazda’s MX-5 roadster the luckiest car on Earth.

Source: Mazda.com

Compiled By: Josh Martin
You May Also Like Seeing: “A Mazda MX-5 Balanced on a Saw Horse
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NBA All-Star Blake Griffin Travels Back In Time – Video Blog

Information contained on this page is provided by companies via press release distributed through PR Newswire, an independent third-party content provider. PR Newswire, WorldNow and this Station make no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

SOURCE Kia Motors America

2013 Kia Optima Blake Time TravelsKia Spokesman Offers Career Guidance to Younger Version of Himself and Shows Off His Futuristic Optima Midsize Sedan and Kia’s UVO Powered by Microsoft Voice-Activated Infotainment System[1]

– 30-second “Free Throw” and “Football” spots are the first in a series of five commercials featuring Griffin’s dry sense of humor

– Campaign tips-off with the start of the 2012-13 NBA season and includes broadcast, digital and social media elements

IRVINE, Calif., Oct. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — With the 2012-13 NBA season about to tip off, Kia Motors’ global brand ambassador, superstar Blake Griffin, is back in a series of humorous new television commercials featuring the fast-growing automaker’s best-selling Optima midsize sedan and innovative UVO voice-activated infotainment system.  In the five 30-second spots, Griffin offers helpful suggestions to younger versions of himself as Kia’s UVO voice-activated infotainment system takes his futuristic Optima on a time-traveling musical journey through the mid-1990s and early-2000s.  Griffin’s deadpan delivery and dry sense of humor shines in the first two commercials as he urges younger versions of himself to forget about playing football and spend more time practicing free throws in another spot.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121029/LA01622)

Beginning tomorrow, the first two commercials – titled “Free Throw” (circa 1995) and “Football” (circa 1997), will debut on television with three additional spots scheduled to roll out throughout the NBA season, along with a presence on all Kia social and digital platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Kia.com.

“Blake turned people’s heads after his famous dunk over a Kia Optima in the Sprite® Slam Dunk contest at NBA All-Star 2011, and his on-court talent combined with his unique comedic style and personality have translated into a powerful partnership that has helped raise awareness and brand perception for Kia,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing & communications, KMA.  “Griffin is one of the most exciting and recognizable young athletes in the world, and this latest campaign pairs Griffin’s basketball wisdom and athleticism with the youthful style, performance and cutting-edge technology of our wildly popular Optima midsize sedan and the award-winning UVO infotainment system.”

Created by David&Goliath, KMA’s advertising agency of record, the Griffin spots were helmed by renowned director Paul Hunter, who directed last year’s commercials featuring Griffin and is credited with award-winning spots for Nike and Burger King. “Free Throw” and “Football” are available now atYouTube.com/Kia, and will make their television debuts tomorrow on network and cable programming.

About Blake Griffin

Selected first overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, Blake Griffin took the NBA by storm in his rookie season and broke records every step of the way. Known for his high-flying dunks and unwavering physicality, Griffin competed on the 2011 NBA All-Star Team, the first rookie All-Star voted to the game by coaches sinceTim Duncan in 1998. He won the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk contest, participated in the NBA All-Star Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, and was named the 2010-11 NBA Rookie of the Year.  A highlight reel sensation equipped with the size, strength, quickness and skill to keep his household name buzzworthy for many years to come, Griffin has transformed the Clippers into a must-watch franchise.  A native of Oklahoma City, Okla., the 6’9″ power forward attended the University of Oklahoma, where he was one of the highest rated and most decorated recruits in Sooners history.  A media magnet, Griffin already has earned numerous accolades, including the Oscar Robertson Trophy, Adolph Rupp Trophy, John Wooden Award, Naismith Award, Sports Illustrated Player of the Year, multiple NBA Western Conference  Rookie of the Month honors and many more; for more information go to www.blakegriffin.com or follow him at @blakegriffin.

About the 2013 Kia Optima

With a luxury appearance and a refined interior, the 2013 Optima is available in three trims, LX, EX and SX, and offers a wide array of convenience and luxury as well as impressive technology features like an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with SiriusXM Traffic™ Satellite Radio capabilities and three months complimentary service[2], auxiliary and USB audio input jacks, standard Bluetooth®[3] wireless connectivity with steering wheel-mounted voice activation controls, and Kia’s new UVO powered by Microsoft® voice-activated infotainment system.  Available with three powerful and fuel-efficient engines, a 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder[4], a 2.0-liter GDI turbo[5] or a 2.4-liter hybrid that achieves up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway[6], the stylish and performance-oriented midsize sedan begins at $21,200[7]  for 2013.

Kia’s Unprecedented Growth

Kia Motors is one of the world’s fastest moving global automotive brands; from 2009-2011 Kia launched more new vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker, and under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer earned a reputation as an industry leader in automotive styling.  Kia Motors America’s full line of fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive cars and CUVs has earned critical acclaim and dramatically increased consumer awareness, perception and consideration for the brand.  In 2011, KMA recorded its 17th consecutive year of market share growth, thanks in part to the largest increase of any major brand in perceived quality[8] and the industry’s highest brand loyalty ranking[9].  Kia’s U.S.-based manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia – KMMG – is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and builds two of the company’s best-selling vehicles in the U.S. – the Sorento CUV and Optima midsize sedan*.  Kia’s value and technology-laden lineup also includes the Sportage compact CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Optima Hybrid, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.

About Kia Motors America

Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 755 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the “Official Automotive Partner” of the NBA and LPGA. In 2011, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and became one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S[10]. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.

Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website –www.kia.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com.

[1] UVO is optional equipment and available with select packages.  Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

* The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX Trims and certain LX Trims only) and GDI Turbo are built in the United Statesfrom U.S. and globally sourced parts.

[2] Sirius services require subscriptions, sold separately after 3-month trial included with vehicle purchase/lease. Subscriptions governed by SiriusXM Customer Agreement at siriusxm.com© 2011 SiriusXM Radio Inc. Sirius, XM and all related marks and logos are trademarks of SiriusXM Radio Inc.

[3] The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Kia is under license. Other trademarks and tradenames are those of their respective owners. A compatible Bluetooth® wireless technology enabled cell phone is required to use Bluetooth® wireless technology.

[4] EPA estimated 24 city /34 highway MPG.  Actual mileage will vary.

[5] EPA estimated 22 city / 34 highway MPG.  Actual mileage will vary.

[6] EPA estimated MPG for Optima Hybrid.

[7] MSRP for Optima LX, excludes $775 destination and handling fee, title, taxes, license, options and dealer charges. Actual prices set by dealer and may vary.

[8] Source: Automotive Lease Guide Spring 2011 Perceived Quality Study.

[9] Source: Experian Automotive Q2 2011 market analysis.

[10] Based on 5-year cumulative growth between 12-month retail sales for periods ending September 2007 andSeptember 2012 of all U.S. automotive brands

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Automotive

 

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