Founded in 1920 by Jujiro Matsuda, Mazda Motor Corporation forged a reputation for innovation, affordability, and performance. Originally called the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd, the Japanese company began as a machine tool manufacturer. Saved from bankruptcy in the late 1920’s, Toyo Kogyo began making vehicles in 1931.
The Mazda-Go was the first of many innovated vehicles made by Mazda. The name came from a combination of Ahura Mazda, a god of wisdom, intelligence and harmony from West Asian mythology and Jujiro Matsuda. As a three-wheeled open truck, it is considered to be the first autorickshaw. In 1960, the R360 coupe was developed. This vehicle marked Mazda’s entrance into the passenger vehicle. The company also began to build pickups. By 1970, the automaker began selling cars in the US.
During the 60’s, it was the only automaker to offer three engine configurations: conventional gasoline piston, diesel and rotary. The Wankel rotary engine makes use of an eccentric rotary design that converts pressure into rotating motion. Mazda used the advantages of this unique engine (compactness, simplicity, high revolutions per minute, smoothness, and a high power to weight ratio) to great advantage. The automaker was able to make lighter and cheaper vehicles but keep the power of a larger and more expensive car. This uniqueness leads to an increase in sales and increased exports. Mazda continued development of the rotary engine, introducing a pickup truck, a bus, and a station wagon that made use of the technology.
The success of the rotary engine crashed to a halt during the oil crisis of 1973. As gas prices soared, consumers sought more energy efficient vehicles. This change in the market nearly led to bankruptcy in 1975. Fortunately, these financial problems did not change Mazda’s reputation for innovation. A partnership with Ford, from 1979 to 2010, led to many joint projects. The collaboration would successfully continue till the world crisis in 2008. Ford sold its interest in Mazda in a desperate attempt to streamline and save itself from bankruptcy. The two companies continue to have a relationship and routinely exchange technological information.
Mazda, despite setbacks, has maintained its reputation for making affordable cars that are fun to drive. Continued innovation led to greater fuel efficiency and engine output.
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