Like many automakers, the Toyo Cork Kogyo Corporation, which began as a machine manufacturer in 1920, developed weapons technology during WW2. Based in Japan, the company released vehicles early in its tenure, but it wasn't until 1960 that the Mazda automobiles began rolling off of assembly lines. The R360 was a moderate success in the Japanese marketplace, but engines made up a bulk of the company's workload until 1984. The time, to that point, was well-spent, however, as the development of the rotary engine has powered Mazda into the upper echelon of automakers today.
Founded by Jujiro Matsuda, Mazda's RX-7 was one of the first models to truly make a splash in the international marketplace. When Ford took an interest in the company in the ‘60s, a relationship that would continue to flourish for decades, the brand began to grow along with the market's interest.
From the RX-7, which has had an on-again/off-again love affair with sports coupe enthusiasts for decades, to the now-popular Mazda 3 series, the automaker continues to capitalize on younger drivers and their interest in the easily modified Mazda offerings. The Mazda Millenia was the company's attempt at creating a luxury automobile, and while the model enjoyed moderate success, the sportier coupes continue to drive international sales.
Today, Mazda is at the forefront of the “green auto” movement. By using bio-fabrics in their interior designs and experimenting with various engine technologies, the company is doing what they can to keep the power that the rotary engine provides while reducing the amount of fuel required to power it.
Mazda is also involved in several motorsports events, which has helped to keep the automaker relevant with performance vehicles. Models such as the Miata continue to remain popular with amateur racers, which bodes well for both the present and future prospects of the company.
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