Mazda MX-5 with retractable hardtop introduced in Japan
If you’re a big fan of Mazda’s popular little roadster but not of its soft-top, here’s some good news: The RF version, featuring a retractable hardtop, is sure to reach our market soon.
We know this because the car has been officially debuted in Mazda’s home market of Japan. According to the carmaker, it will now start taking orders for the MX-5 RF (which stands for “retractable fastback,” by the way) in Japan. It will go on sale on December 22 at Mazda dealerships throughout Japan.
The MX-5 RF features fastback styling with a smooth roofline that curves down to the rear end, and its unique rear roof and retractable back window offer a new open-air feeling. The roof opens and closes in a beautifully choreographed sequence and requires only the flip of a switch. Stowing the roof efficiently in the limited space available enables the car to offer almost the same trunk space as the soft-top model.
The MX-5 RF is powered by a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G gasoline engine. With greater displacement than the engine in the soft-top in Japan, it promises lithe and refined driving performance that matches the model’s design.
Excited for the car’s arrival in our market?
Daimler to open Israeli R&D center
German automotive company Daimler, which owns carmaker Mercedes-Benz, has announced it will open a new research and development center in Tel Aviv, Israel, which will form part of its global R&D network that includes the United States, Germany, India and China. The Israeli technology center will be managed by Adi Ofek, an Israeli who has international management experience and has held several management positions in Daimler since 2000.
The Tel Aviv R&D center will focus on “car mobility and information services, in addition to the development and testing of various projects and user interfaces,” the company shares.
Prof. Thomas Weber, Daimler AG board member and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, says the Tel Aviv R&D center “is aimed at boosting the global R&D array with the help of Israel, the high-tech nation. The center joins Daimler’s R&D centers, so that we will continue to be the automotive industry’s technological vanguard in terms of efficient, technologically advanced and safe cars.”
The new R&D center will “develop a network with Israeli start-up companies, technology accelerators, incubators, innovation centers and established high-tech firms,” according to reports from Germany.
General Motors already has a large R&D hub in Israel, which has been undergoing a rapid expansion, and Renault has recently opened an R&D center in cooperation with Tel Aviv University.
Trivia: You know the guys who created Waze? They’re from Israel. Intelligent people, those dudes.
Tesla phasing out free fast-charging service
Electric-car maker Tesla has revealed it will introduce fees for using its fast-charging network. Starting January 1 next year, Tesla owners will receive a 400kWh credit that is good for roughly 1,000 miles every year. But additional charging will cost users and Tesla is yet to set a price. Existing Tesla owners will not be affected, the company points out.
“There will be a small fee to Supercharge, which will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car,” Tesla says.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted about adding fees for fast charging in May this year, because the company cannot afford to give free charging to drivers of its Model 3 Sedan that costs $35,000 and will be rolled out late next year.
The company already has more than 4,600 fast-charging stations that can deliver a charge for 270km of range in 30 minutes. The stations are located across the US interstate highways and Europe.
Tesla owners have made the free charging stations regular stops, such that long lines are formed. The company has reminded Tesla owners that free charging should be for long-distance travelers needing a fast charge.
Report: Audi CEO could face emissions inquiry
It looks like Volkswagen’s diesel-gate scandal is spreading to its stablemates. According to a Reuters report, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler “will again be questioned by US law firm Jones Day on a reported discovery of a new cheat software device at the luxury car brand.”
According to the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, a US regulator had found a software in an Audi car equipped with an automatic transmission, that was “capable of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by detecting whether a car’s steering wheel was turned as it would be when driving on a road.”
Bad timing, this one. The VW Group is already seeking an agreement with the US government that will finally resolve the diesel-emissions issue. Let’s hope this finds favorable conclusion soon.