Mazda revisits record-breaking history for 100th birthday
Joining the centennial club in the automotive category is Mazda, which turns 100 this year. Mazda started out in 1920 as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Company, a humble company in Hiroshima that produced cork. By 1929, Toyo Cork Kogyo shifted to manufacturing machine tools, and by 1931 it was building three-wheel trucks. The Toyo Kogyo Company continued to manufacture machine tools alongside the three-wheel trucks, expanding its car production capability in 1960 to produce the company’s first-ever passenger car: the Mazda R360 Coupe.
From this point on, the Toyo Kogyo Company started to make a mark on the automotive world with four new vehicles produced in just four years, and by 1963, cumulative vehicle production reached a million. By 1970 the company had 12 vehicles in the lineup, and with vehicle production reaching almost five million, it had already developed engine technology that no other manufacturer had been able to perfect — the rotary engine. By 1984, the company formally adopted the name Mazda, and every automobile sold from then on bore that name.
Today, Mazda is a fiercely independent manufacturing company with engineering at its heart. Over the years, the company has attracted some of the best engineering minds around the world and, despite its small size in automotive terms, producing 1.6 million cars a year, it has developed a significant number of world firsts, demonstrating the strength and independent thinking of this innovative company. While much has been written about Mazda’s cars — from the rotary Cosmo, RX-7 and RX-8, to motorsport success in the IMSA championship, the famous Le Mans victory, and the huge international success of the MX-5, to the way Mazda has created true driver’s cars, it is the engineering behind Mazda products that delivers these successes.
In their official press release, Mazda said: “At the heart of every car is the engine, and in their quest to develop the perfect combustion method, Mazda has developed some of the industry’s most interesting power units over the years. In the 1960s Mazda saw the potential of the rotary engine, the ability to develop high power from a lightweight, small-capacity engine with a smooth operation due to rotating parts rather than reciprocating movement. The unique characteristics of the rotary all contributed to the driving experience that has made Mazda rotary engine cars a favourite of drivers the world over and brought motorsport success to Mazda over the last 50 years.”
Mazda has many world firsts in its 100-year history, some of which include:
- The first automotive manufacturer in the world to develop and use a Miller Cycle engine (1995);
- The first manufacturer to recycle bumpers, initially just using the recycled plastic for hidden parts such as undertrays (1992);
- Developed a world-first recycling technology, which enhanced the process it uses to recycle used bumpers from vehicles (2011);
- The world’s first company to commercially lease hydrogen-powered rotary engine cars with the hydrogen Mazda RX-8 RE (2006);
- Developed the world’s first bio-plastic that was of a high-enough quality to be used in design decoration parts on the Mazda MX-5 and then on CX-5, CX-30 and MX-30 (2015);
- Launched the world’s first compression ignition petrol engine in the Mazda3 (2019);
- Henry Wallace becoming the first non-Japanese president for a Japanese automotive company (1996);
- Developed a world first aluminum joining technology using friction (2003) and then in 2005 developed the world’s first steel to aluminum friction welding technology.
Today, as Mazda continues in its quest to create the world’s most efficient internal combustion engine and the most environmentally friendly production techniques and materials, Mazda will “continue to create world firsts that benefit both the customer and environment.”
Photos from Mazda