Mazda Motor Corporation recently announced the May 17th production kickoff of the all-new, third-generation MX-5 Miata--the latest and most advanced evolution of the world's best-selling two-seater lightweight, open, sports car--at the Ujina No.1 (U1) plant located near Mazda's global headquarters. Called the all-new Mazda Roadster in Japan, the MX-5 is the first new model to be mass-produced at Mazda's U1 plant, which re-started paint shop operations at the end of April. The first MX-5 off the line was a Third Generation Limited edition model--bound for North America, and painted velocity red, with a red leather interior. It is outfitted with a 16-valve, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox.

"A new car launch is always a critical and exciting event for any car company," said Hisakazu Imaki, president and CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation. "But the launch of a brand icon like the MX-5 is particularly special. This is a great moment for all Mazda employees--and a great day for car enthusiasts around the world."

The all-new MX-5 is already one of the hottest cars of 2005. It was first shown to the public in March at the 2005 Geneva Auto Show and has since been featured prominently around the world, at key auto shows in cities such as Melbourne, Shanghai and New York. The third- generation of the record-setting roadster is an updated and improved version of the most popular two-seat, open-top sports car of all time. In April 2005, the Guinness World Book of Records officially recertified the MX-5 as the best-selling two-seat sports car ever--when production of the second-generation model came to an end in December 2004, a total of 718,954 vehicles had been built. And there are now more on the way.