A carbon-fiber breakthrough could make the next Mazda Miata even lighter

Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport Recaro
Tipping the scale at just 2,332 pounds, the Mazda MX-5 Miata stands out as one of the lightest new cars on the market today. The Japanese firm is always looking to push the envelope in terms of lightness, and one of the company’s top executives has revealed that the next-gen model will lose even more weight.

The next-generation Miata will make extensive use of ultra-light materials, including carbon fiber, in order to shed precious pounds without shrinking down in size, according to Nobuhiro Yamamoto, the roadster’s project manager. And while the idea of using carbon fiber to shed weight isn’t new, the material remains relatively expensive, so it’s currently best suited to high-end sports cars like the BMW i8 and the Lamborghini Huracán. However, Mazda is confident it can solve the cost problem by developing a new, more affordable type of carbon fiber in the coming years.

Yamamoto explains that making the Miata lighter will allow it to use an even smaller engine because it will have less weight to move around. British magazine Autocar believes the next-gen roadster could use a three-cylinder as its base engine, though we won’t learn more specific technical details for at least another year. Notably, it’s too early to tell if the three-banger will be naturally-aspirated, or if the Miata will go turbo for the first time in its decades-long history. What’s certain is that downsizing will reduce the Miata’s level of exhaust emissions.

Read more: How do you like the sound of the Mazda3 with a 250-horsepower engine?

Mazda has plenty of time to develop cheaper carbon fiber. The fourth-generation Miata went on sale last year, and its replacement isn’t scheduled to arrive until 2021 at the very earliest. The company has a long history of leveraging the benefits of economies of scale, so it’s safe to assume that even volume-focused models like the 3 and the 6 will rely on lightweight materials after the turn of the decade.

Cars

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.
Cars

This Chevy Silverado pickup truck is made from more than 300,000 Lego bricks

To promote The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Lego and Chevrolet teamed up on a life-size replica of the automaker's Silverado pickup truck made from more than 300,000 plastic bricks.
Cars

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.
Cars

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…
Cars

The 2020 Lexus RC F goes on a diet to run faster and hit harder

The Lexus RC F has been one of the heavier cars in its competitive set since its introduction. The Japanese firm's engineers set out to shed weight as they gave the model a mid-cycle update.
Cars

Tesla cuts workforce by 7 percent, ends referral program to trim costs

Tesla has announced plans to trim its workforce by seven percent, and it will end the referral program that rewards customers who help it sell cars. These measures are ways to cut costs and boost profits.
Cars

Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.
Cars

Worried about commuting in winter weather? Nissan has the answer

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan is now available with all-wheel drive. To advertise that fact, Nissan's Canadian division slapped some tank-like tracks on an Altima to create a one-off show car.
Emerging Tech

Too buzzed to drive? Don’t worry — this autonomous car-bar will drive to you

It might just be the best or worst idea that we've ever heard: A self-driving robot bartender you can summon with an app, which promises to mix you the perfect drink wherever you happen to be.
Cars

Michigan OKs digital license plates with Rplate’s connected car platform

The state of Michigan approved the use of digital license plates on motor vehicles registered in the state. Reviver Auto, the manufacturer of the Rplate connected car platform, worked with Michigan's Department of State to pass the bill.
Cars

Prices for using Tesla Supercharging just skyrocketed

Tesla is updating their Supercharging pricing based on local electricity rates and customer demand, which has lead to an increase in charging costs by as much as 33 percent in some regions.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…
Outdoors

Is Uber planning to put its self-driving tech into bikes and scooters?

Uber reportedly has its eye on building autonomous electric bikes and scooters that ride to a user when summoned by an app. The technology could also be used to make its two-wheelers safer with obstacle avoidance systems.