Mazda

Mazda logoMazda has always been a company that seeked to blaze trails, defy convention and stand out with innovative products. From sports cars equipped with rotary engines to a focus on exterior design, the automaker frequently veered off the beaten path in order to distinguish itself from bigger companies.

2025 Mazda CX-70

Today, as always, consumers searching for a vehicle that’s engaging to drive, and not just an appliance on wheels to go from point A to point B, are poised to look at Mazda as one of the brands suited to satisfy their needs.

2024 Mazda MX-5

Granted, Mazda products don’t necessarily shine when it comes to versatility, as they generally aren’t the most spacious in their respective segments, nor the most fuel-efficient. The path to electrification is a tricky one for the automaker who has always specialized in light, nimble vehicles while EVs are heavy due to the extra weight of their battery packs. The company’s first effort for the North American market, the MX-30, was praised for conserving a fun-to-drive DNA, but its driving range was deemed insufficient. Meanwhile, Mazda has shifted towards the deployment of plug-in hybrid technology in its newer crossover vehicles.

Mazda MX-30 e-SkyActiv R-EV

Mazda also has to figure out a way to keep offering niche products and still make a profit at a time when all manufacturers are cutting costs and maximizing the efficiency of its operations. The low-volume Mazda MX-5 is one example, and the last one of those niche vehicles that the company is known for.

2024 Mazda3

Current Mazda Model Lineup

The brand’s U.S. and Canadian lineups currently consist of the Mazda3, the Mazda MX-5 and MX-5 RF, the Mazda MX-30 (Canada), the Mazda CX-30, the Mazda CX-5, the Mazda CX-50, the Mazda CX-70 and the Mazda CX-90. The company also announced its plans to launch a slew of HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs by 2025, its autonomous driving tech in 2025, and by 2030, all of its vehicles will feature electrified powertrains, 25% of those being fully electric. Mazda also plans to achieve carbon neutrality throughout its operations by 2050.

Mazda History

Founded in 1920 in Hiroshima, Japan by Jujiro Matsuda, Toyo Cork Kogyo Co. Ltd. initially manufactured cork, before renaming itself to Toyo Kogyo Company in 1927. After starting production of machine tools from 1929, then engines and motorcycles, it manufactured its very first vehicle in 1931 under the Mazda brand with the introduction of the motorcycle-based Mazda-Go three-wheel truck, sold through Mitsubishi Motors’ sales network.

1931 Mazda-Go Type DA

While launching a series of three-wheel trucks through the 1930s and 1940s, with exports to China and India, Mazda built its first passenger car prototype in 1940. However, the company’s progress was temporarily halted after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

1950 Mazda Type-CA

During the 1950s, Mazda created three-wheel trucks with longer bodies for increased payload capacities, while introducing its first three-wheeled passenger car in 1950, the Type-PB, which could seat six occupants. The Type-CA was also launched in 1950, Mazda’s first small four-wheel truck, boasting a one-ton load capacity. In 1951, Jujiro Matsuda became the company chairman while his son Tsuneji Matsuda replaced him as president. In 1957, Mazda celebrated its 200,000th vehicle produced, right before introducing more four-wheel trucks, the Mazda Romper, the Mazda D1100 and the Mazda D1500. Before the end of the decade, it also launched the K360, T600, T1100 and T1500 three-wheel trucks.

1960 Mazda R360 Coupe

The brand’s expansion continued in the 60s with the introduction of the 1960 Mazda R360 Coupe, its first two-door, two-seat passenger car equipped with a 365cc, 16-horsepower engine. It was followed in 1961 by the Mazda B360 light truck and light van models, along with the Mazda B1500 compact pickup truck. In 1961, Mazda also started a technical cooperation with Germany’s NSU to develop rotary engines. The year 1962 also saw the introduction of the Mazda Carol 360 and Carol 600 passenger cars, the first models with four doors, in addition to the D1500 and D2000 commercial pickup trucks and the B1500 van. Mazda started building vehicles in South Korea that year.

1963 Mazda Familia Sedan

Production reached the 1 million mark in 1963, just before Mazda started building vehicles in South Africa. The Mazda Familia was introduced that same year in a variety of body styles, followed by the Mazda Proceed B1500 pickup, the Mazda Bongo vans and trucks as well as the Mazda Luce sedan. The company also started manufacturing diesel engines, built a new passenger-car plant in Hiroshima and started exporting cars to Europe while opening up shop in Australia. In 1969, it also established transmission company JATCO in collaboration with Ford and Nissan.

1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport

The company’s first iconic vehicle arrived in 1967. The Mazda Cosmo two-seat sports car was equipped with the brand’s first rotary engine, and remains a sought-after classic today. More rotary-powered models followed, such as the Mazda Luce or R130 coupe, Japan’s first front-engine, front-wheel-drive passenger car.

1970 Mazda RX-2/Capella

It wasn’t until the end of the 60s before Mazda crossed the ocean to North America. It started importing vehicles in Canada in 1968, then opened offices in the United States in 1970 and started importing vehicles in the country that same year. The Mazda Capella or RX-2 was introduced in 1970, slotting between the smaller Familia and the bigger Luce. Kohei Matsuda, son of Tsuneji, took over as company president after his father’s death in 1970, a position he held until 1977.

1977 Mazda GLC/323

A succession of models were introduced during the seventies, including the Mazda Savanna or RX-3, the Mazda Grand Familia, the Mazda Luce or RX-4 and Cosmo or RX-5, the fourth-generation Familia known in North America as the Mazda GLC, as well as the first Mazda RX-7. The Mazda Rotary-Engined Pickup was offered only in North America from 1974 to 1977, and remains the world’s only pickup truck equipped with such an engine to this day. After supplying Ford with compact pickup trucks–the Ford Courier was sold as a rebadged Mazda Proceed–the two automakers entered into a capital tie-up in 1979, leading to sharing of powertrains, technologies and vehicles over the next few decades. Mazda also celebrated its 10-millionth vehicle manufactured worldwide.

1978 Mazda RX-7/Savanna

During the 1980s, Mazda’s North American lineup included the Mazda 323, the Mazda 626 and the Mazda 929, along with the B-Series pickup truck and the Mazda RX-7. The company also invested in Korean automaker Kia. In 1984, it was now officially known as the Mazda Motor Corporation, and opened its first U.S. manufacturing facility in 1985.

1988 Mazda 323GTX

The second-generation RX-7 also arrived in 1985, spawning a convertible variant soon thereafter, while the performance-focused, turbocharged and all-wheel-drive Mazda 323GTX was made available for the 1988 model year. Through its partnership with Kia, the built-in-Korea Mazda 121 launched outside of North America, along with its rebadged counterpart, the Ford Festiva which was offered in the U.S. and Canada. The 626 coupe eventually became the Mazda MX-6, which shared mechanical components with the Ford Probe. The end of the decade saw the arrival of the Mazda MPV minivan, but also another now-legendary nameplate, the Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster.

1989 Mazda MX-5 Miata

After building its 25-millionth vehicle in 1990, the brand pursued its product offensive with the launch of the Mazda MX-3 (also known as the Precidia in Canada), the second-generation 929 (also known as the Serenia in Canada), the second-generation Mazda 626 (also known as the Cronos in Canada), the second-gen Mazda MX-6 (also known as the Mystere in Canada) and the third-gen RX-7. The Mazda Millenia sedan also appeared as an upscale model following the company’s aborted attempt at creating a standalone luxury brand called Amati in order to rival Acura, Infiniti and Lexus. The 323 sedan became the Mazda Protegé in North America. Meanwhile, the Mazda Navajo was sold from 1991 to 1994 as a badge-engineered two-door Ford Explorer.

2003 Mazda RX-8

In 1991, Mazda won the Le Mans 24-hour race with its rotary-powered 787B race car, becoming the first Japanese brand to win the prestigious event.

2006 Mazda5

The 2000s saw the introduction of the Mazda Protegé5 hatchback and turbocharged MAZDASPEED Protegé, followed by the Mazda3 and the MAZDASPEED3, the Mazda5, the Mazda6 and the MAZDASPEED6, the Mazda RX-8 and the Mazda Tribute, the latter sharing many components with the Ford Escape, while the redesigned B-Series was also quite similar to the Ford Ranger pickup. The turbocharged MAZDASPEED MX-5 Miata was offered in North America for the 2004 and 2005 model years. The brand’s utility vehicle portfolio expanded with the arrival of the compact Mazda CX-7 and the midsize three-row Mazda CX-9.

2013 Mazda CX-5

During the 2010s, Mazda launched its SKYACTIV technology suite, optimizing engines, transmissions and platforms to increase fuel economy and performance. The brand introduced the subcompact Mazda2 hatchback and the fourth-gen Mazda MX-5, including its new power-retractable hardtop variant called the MX-5 RF. The Mazda CX-3 and Mazda CX-5 crossovers appeared in North America, while the Mazda CX-4 and Mazda CX-8 were reserved for other markets. The early 2020s saw the launch of the Mazda CX-30 and Mazda CX-50 crossovers as well, while a new manufacturing plant in Alabama, USA, established through a joint venture with Toyota, started building Mazda vehicles in 2022.

2024 Mazda CX-90

More recently, as the brand enters the world of electrified powertrains, it introduced the fully electric Mazda MX-30 subcompact crossover as well as the mild hybrid/plug-in hybrid Mazda CX-90 midsize three-row utility. The midsize two-row Mazda CX-70 launched in January 2024 with the same powertrains as the CX-90.