The Story of Mazda Motor Corporation
May 4, 2009
Toyo Cork Kogyo Co, Ltd is a name not too many people would recognize today. Nevertheless, that is exactly who Mazda started out as. The company's first products were not cars but tools up until they made decision 1n 1931 they wanted to compete in the auto manufacturing market. Today they are known for trendy little sports cars like the Mazda RX-7 and four door family sedans like the Mazda 626. Although Toyo Kogyo still continued to manufacture tools and cars, they also produced weapons for the Japanese military for World War Two. There is some debate concerning the origin of the name Mazda for the company. It is believed by some to be an anglicized version of the founder's name, Matsuda. Others feel that Matsuda himself chose the name Mazda as it is derived from Ahura Mazda, the name for a divinity exalted they whose follow the custom of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism is believed by some in near eastern cultures to be the source of wisdom, intelligence and harmony. Mazda wanted a way to set itself apart from its competition so it devoted itself to the development of different type of engine, apart from the standard piston driven engine that other manufacturers were using. The Wankel Rotary engine was developed in the 1960's and Mazda began using it for the first time in the limited production Cosmo Sort that was introduced in 1967. The motor quickly became quite popular because it provides a lot of power in relation to its relatively lightweight. Mazda has continued to use the innovative Wankel rotary engine its trendy RX sports cars. It is still used in conjunction with its current sports car model, the RX-8. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of the rotary engine is its rather inefficient fuel consumption. This proved to somewhat of a problem in Mazda's first real entry into the United States market in the early seventies. With a global fuel crisis looming, the popularity of this engine began to waiver and Mazda experienced limited success in the North American markets because of it. Because Mazda had not completely abandoned production of the piston driven engine, they were able to concentrate more on these engines for their lineup of sedans until the economic crunch of that time period had passed. Mazda did still suffer financial setbacks in the early seventies as a result of the energy crisis and it was at this time that Ford Motor Company decided to make an offer to invest lightly in the Mazda Motor Corporation. The initial venture started with Ford purchasing a 7% financial stake in Mazda. By the eighties, that investment had increased to 20%. The partnership between the two has resulted in mixed benefits for both companies. Ford has marketed one of its smaller cars under the Mazda banner, the Ford Fiesta was renamed the Mazda 121 in markets in Europe and South Africa. Through the years, various other cars and trucks have been marketed under both Ford and Mazda names. However, the recent economic nightmare that has become a reality for Ford has forced it to consider
Ronnie Tanner is a contributing writer at SW Engines. He writes about used Mazda engines and other departmental updates for the company.
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