The history of Mazda


Mazda, only one brand which produced rotary engine vehicles in the world

Mazda was a cork-flooring company its founder, Jujiro Matsuda, turned the company into a global auto maker.

It entered into car industry through manufacturing tricyclic trucks in 1931, which started producing its first rotary engine vehicle in 1960s. It has strived for development of rotary engine’s efficiency and now, rotary engine vehicles are hailed as an icon of Mazda.





  Toyo Cork Kogyo Co. founded in Japan


  Mazda’s first motor vehicle was into car industry with the introduction of Mazda-go


  It began development of the Wankel rotary engine


  Cosmo Sport(110s) equipped rotary engine was introduced


  Mazda rushed into the vehicle market in the US


  RX-7 and Bongo minivan was launched


  Mazda was renamed to Mazda Motor Corporation


  MX-5 was launched


  Mazda and Ford was in long-term strategic relationship


  RX-8 was launched (the last car equipped rotary engine of Mazda)


  Mazda was ended joint vehicle development with Ford


  Mazda announced production discontinuance of rotary engine


  Full changed Mazda3 was introduced




[From cork stoppers to motor]

Mazda, was founded in Hiroshima, Japan in 1920, was a company manufactured cork stopper. When it was in traffic paralysis in Tokyo by the great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, Mazda started producing compact motorcycles. Based on that, in 1931, the three-wheeler truck named Mazda GO was launched but almost manufacturing facilities was destroyed by an atom bomb in 1945.


▲Mazda-go (Source :

After that, Mazda struggled for producing three-wheeler trucks continuously and it entered car market through its first car, R360 Coupe which has a 16-horsepower engine at last. Although R360 was not evaluated as commercial success, it contributed to establishing the foundation of ‘being a car company’.




[Rotary engine: it became the icon of Mazda]

Rotary engine paved the way for Mazda’s popularity. In 1961, Mazda introduced the rotary typed engine called Wankel engine from NSU in Germany (Rotary engine was invented by Felix Wankel so it has also called Wankel engine). In fact, this Wankel engine was not appropriate to applying for its cars but Mazda’s engineers believe that it can be improved and they struggled for its efficiency and durability. At last, Mazda achieved applying for its car, which was launched in the name of ‘Cosmo Sport (110S)’. After that Mazda’s rotary engine was equipped Famila coupe, Savanna and etc, which even took part in the Le Mans 24-hours race and Grand Prix.


▲Rotery engine (Source :




[Crisis of Mazda]

Likewise, the performance of Mazda’s rotary engine was acknowledged from many customers and the popularity was also increase. In 1978, RX-7, marked a milestone in automotive industry, was launched. This car became representative of Mazda’ motors and got popular throughout the world. The consecutive Oil crisis, however, had serious effect on rotary engine because this engine has very good performance but fuel efficiency is low. By that, Mazda got terrible management crisis could be resuscitate by Ford’s quota participation. Japanese car industry was experienced a renaissance in 1980s. Mazda which was producing compact cars after Ford’s quota participation also made its name in the world.




[The production discontinuance of rotary engine and re-takeoff]

After ended joint vehicle development with Ford in 2010, all new Mazda’s line up was launched recently. However, rotary engine was not equipped to them. It is because that Mazda announced the production discontinuance of rotary engine. There are some reason, which is that Environmental issue and Poor sales.

Some of Japanese car makers could not fulfil the emissions standards called ‘Euro 5’ in the Europe, which Mazda was also encounter it. In addition, In case of RX8 which was the last model equipped the Engine, its production had peaked at about 23,000 in 2004 but it was declined to under 1,000 in 2011.


▲RX-8. The last car equipped rotery engine of Mazda. (source :

But, Mazda seems to have some opportunities. Mazda’s production was increased by 19% in September 2013 and could get out of the decline for last four month at last. Additionally, there is a positive sign for some mania of Mazda, which is the possibility of the rotary engine’s revival. According to Mazda CEO, Takashi Yamanouchi, the company is still committed to producing the rotary engine in November 2011 and the RX-7 of the 50th anniversary of Mazda’s first Wankel-powered car is under contemplation.





Autonews (2013). Mazda sales uptick stirs rebound hopes [online] available from < > [10 June 2013]

AutoBlog (2011). Mazda CEO charts how to reach 2 percent of world market, rotary engine far from dead [online] available from <; [16 November 2012]

Lewin, T. (2011). AZ of 21st Century Cars. London: Merrell

MSN Autos (2011). Mazda’s Rotary Engine Ceases production [online] available from <; [27 June 2011]


One comment

  1. Fascinating. i learnt a lot about Mazda from this – not least the ‘Cork’ designation and maunfacturing about which I knew nothing. i had always referred to the company as Toyo Kogyo. I had forgotten about the cork.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: