logo august mazda in kelowna bc
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Mazda Brand History in BC, Canada

Cork isn’t a material often associated with the automotive industry. But for Mazda, this sustainable material plays an important role in the brand's past. More than a century ago, Mazda's humble beginnings began in 1920 as the Toyo Cork Kogyo – a cork and machine tools manufacturer in Hiroshima, Japan. Headed by Jujiro Matsuda, the company succeeded in bringing innovations to the market, including insulation, cushioning materials, and pressed cork boards. 

After renaming the company Toyo Kogyo in 1927, Matsuda transitioned into machinery manufacturing to produce three-wheel pickup trucks and small vehicles for the Japanese market. 

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The Mazda name was later introduced in October 1931, which is derived from Ahura Mazda, who is the god of harmony, intelligence, and wisdom. Founding members interpreted the name as a symbol of Eastern and Western civilization, but also the birth of automotive civilization and culture.

This set the foundation for the Mazda brand that BC drivers know and love today.

Mazda’s Arrival in BC, Canada

In 1968, Mazda brought the R100 coupe to Canada with its ground-breaking rotary engine under the hood. Producing 100 hp, the engine set the automaker apart from the competition and its fast and nimble chassis was quickly noticed. This was also the start of other Japanese cars making their way to Canadian roadways.

On July 19, 1968, the first Mazda store opened in Burnaby, BC, which was the brand’s second venture outside of Japan and its first arrival on North American soil. After establishing operations in Australia in 1967, Canada became Mazda’s gateway to the U.S. market. The port of Vancouver also enhanced the company’s logistics.

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A Timeline of Mazda’s Rich History in BC, Canada, and Beyond

• 1968: Mazda begins formal operations in Canada and the R100 coupe is the first model sold.

• 1969: Mazda introduces the B-Series pickup truck – one of the longest-running nameplates in the brand’s history.

• 1970: Mazda enters the American market with the R100 coupe, which was the first mass-produced rotary-powered car in the U.S.

• 1971: Mazda introduces the RX-2 – the first of the iconic RX series of sports cars.

• 1973: The company refocuses its efforts towards smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles as a response to the oil crisis.

• 1977: Mazda introduces the GLC, which stands for Great Little Car.

• 1978: The Mazda RX-7 debuts and the manufacturer moves its headquarters to Ontario to better serve its retail network. 

• 1979: The Ford Motor Company takes a 25 percent stake in Mazda.

• 1985: The Mazda 323 is unveiled as the successor to the GLC. 

• 1989: The two-door MX-5 Miata debuts at the Chicago Auto Show and the Mazda Protégé replaces the 323 line-up.

• 1991: The Mazda 787 B wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, becoming the first rotary-powered car and Japanese vehicle to do so.

• 1992: Mazda introduces the third generation twin-turbo RX-7.

• 1994: The Millennia – Mazda’s then flagship sedan – is launched.

• 1996: Ford took a controlling stake in the Mazda brand.

• 1997: Mazda unveils its new Winged M logo worldwide.

• 2000: The Guinness Book of World Records names the Mazda Miata the best-selling two-seat convertible in history.

• 2002: Mazda reaches one-million vehicles sold milestone in Canada.

• 2003: The Mazda3 and Mazda6 are revealed.

• 2004: The RX-8 launches with unique rear-hinged rear doors.

• 2006: The CX-7 becomes Mazda’s first crossover vehicle.

• 2008: Ford sells its majority ownership and Mazda goes on to create its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom plan dedicated to environmental harmony.

• 2009: Mazda celebrates the 20th anniversary of the MX-5 Miata, whose sales had topped 900,000 and won 180 automotive awards.

• 2010: Toyota and Mazda announce a hybrid technology partnership to adapt to the fast-changing auto industry.

• 2011: Mazda develops Skyactiv Technology.

• 2012: The Mazda CX-5 becomes the first fully Skyactiv model for sale.

• 2015: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes Mazda as the most fuel-efficient mainstream automotive manufacturer in the industry, without offering a hybrid or electric vehicle.

• 2016: Mazda celebrates 2,000,000 sold in Canada with the sale of a 2016 Mazda3 in Quebec. 

• 2017: Mazda commits to the Government of Canada’s 5-Cycle Fuel Testing Method to provide Canadian drivers with more approximate fuel consumption ratings.

• 2020: Mazda celebrates its centenary by unveiling a cork-lined floating centre console and inner door handle trim in the MX-30 – its first battery-electric car – to pay tribute to the automakers’ early beginnings.

• 2021: For the second year in a row, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada names the Mazda3 the Canadian Car of the Year while the Mazda3, Mazda3 Sport, Mazda6, CX-30, and CX-5 receive the highest safety designation available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for the fifth consecutive year.

Mazda Continues Its Rich History of Innovation in BC, Canada

More than 50 years later, Mazda has been bringing the joy of Zoom-Zoom to drivers across Canada and in BC. Over this time, the brand’s line-up of vehicles has evolved with each new advancement. From the celebrated RX‑7 and the 323 compact family car to the legendary MX‑5 Miata roadster and the introduction of Skyactiv Technology, a love of motion fuels everything that Mazda does.

To learn more about Mazda’s rich brand heritage, get in touch with our team today.