The Mazda Company had humble beginning, starting as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Company in 1920, later changing its name to Toyo Kogyo Co. Ltd. Beginning in 1931, the company changed its focus from making machinery tools and cork to creating a new line of cars – starting with the Mazda-Go auto rickshaw.
This was a three-wheeled open truck version that looked like a motorcycle, but featured a truck bed or open wagon on the back. A set of handlebars were used to steer, and it was powered by an air-cooled one-cylinder engine/transmission unit.
Toyo Kogyo also produced numerous weapons to be used by Japanese military during World War II. But from that point on, it was all about vehicles.
Key Events and Milestones in Mazda’s History
1960: The company introduced the Mazda R360 in 1960 and then the Mazda Carol just two years later.
1967: After forming a new business partnership with NSU, they produced the Cosmo Sport, making them the only manufacturer that creates the Wankel-type engine.
1970: Mazda North American Operations began in Seattle, Washington, and it was such as success that the company produced the Rotary Pickup just for North Americans.
1973: This was a pivotal year, the Mazda RX-3 became the first vehicle in the world to pass strict new U.S. standards for regulating exhaust emissions, then Car and Driver magazine purchased an RX-2 after their 40,000-mile evaluation and repurposed it as a race car becoming the first Mazda to win a professional race in the U.S.
1978: Mazda introduces the Mazda RX-7, the RX-8, and the piston-powered lightweight Mazda MX-5 Miata.
1979: Ford Motor Company purchases a 25 percent stake in Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd., which would later become Mazda Motor Corporation.
1982: The one-millionth Mazda passenger car was sold in the U.S.
1983: Mazda RX-7 named as a Car and Driver “10 Best,” and the Mazda 626 was awarded Motor Trend “Import Car of the Year.”
1984: They established the Mazda Foundation as a way to give back to the communities where it does business, providing financial and volunteer support to various non-profit organizations.
1986: Mazda RX-7 wins the Motor Trend “Import Car of the Year” award.
1987: Mazda introduces the 929 luxury sedan, which gives the company a complete line of vehicles for North American customers.
1991: One-millionth Mazda B-Series Truck sold in the U.S.
1994: Mazda introduces the supercharged high-output, fuel-efficient Miller-cycle engine. This was the first automotive application of Miller-cycle technology in a mass-production vehicle.
1997: The new “Winged M” brand marquee is introduced worldwide.
Mazda Continues to Impress and a Look to the Future
2003: Mazda introduces 2004 RX-8 sports car, which was the world’s only rotary-engine sports car with a “Freestyle” door system and room for four adults.
2009: A lightweight, ultra-efficient combination of engine, chassis, suspension, transmission and body components called “SKY” is introduced that used the highest compression ratio in the world for gas engines. Those engines burned efficiently and delivered immediate, torque-rich response.
2013: Mazda creates the national Mazda Drive for Good® charitable program, which gives the company, dealerships, employees, and customers a way to give back to their local community.
2016: At the NY International Auto Show, the Mazda MX-5 Miata wins both the World Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year awards, making it the only car ever to win both awards in the same year. Meanwhile, the CX-5 tops the Mazda3 as Mazda’s best-selling vehicle in the United States.