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The automotive industry is one of the largest industries in the world, with vehicles constantly changing in structure, design, and functionality as time goes by. Japan is a major player in the industry, well known for some of the most popular car brands, such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda, who have made iconic and historic cars since their early days.

The Mazda Motor Corporation, a multinational automaker based in Hiroshima, Japan, is famous for making a wide variety of sporty and efficient high-class cars and SUVs. However, what does its name actually mean? What does the word ‘Mazda’ mean?

The early history of Mazda

According to History, Mazda started as a cork-making business in 1920 by Jujiro Matsuda in Hiroshima, Japan. It was first named Toyo Cork Kogyo, which later changed to Toyo Kogyo CO., Ltd in 1927. The name “Mazda” was first introduced when Toyo Kogyo started manufacturing vehicles in 1931, the first model being the Mazda-Go auto rickshaw. 

During World War II, the company’s development plans for vehicles were set back after the bombing of Hiroshima. However, Britannica reveals that the company survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima since it was shielded by a hill.

Toyo Kogyo later began making small four-wheeled trucks in the 1950s. In 1960, it made its first passenger car, the Mazda R360 coupe. Companies History says that even though every vehicle model made by Mazda had the name “Mazda,” the name was formally adopted by Toyo Kogyo in 1984 and has stuck with it since.

Where did Mazda acquire its name, and what does it mean?

The Mazda logo pictured on outdoor advertising in Dortmund, Germany
The Mazda logo | Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Jujiro Matsuda named the first car brand “Mazda-go,” and every model since then has had the name “Mazda.” The history behind the name comes from the ancient supreme god of light from Zoroastrianism; the earliest eastern civilization in Western Asia, Ahura Mazda. Ahura is said to stand for harmony, intelligence, and wisdom, according to Rewind & Capture

Similar to the god Ahura, Mazda means light or wisdom. Aiming to contribute toward achieving world peace and to bring light to the automotive market, the Japanese company Toyo Kogyo was hence named Mazda, which, when directly translated, means light. The name also preserves Matsuda’s legacy. 

Mazda’s logo is made up of various symbolic parts. For example, when observed keenly, the logo looks like an owl. The owl symbolizes wisdom which is associated with the god Ahura. According to Fabrikbrands, the oval shape of the badge represents a sense of community and global growth.

Mazda’s logo also has V-shaped wings. According to Inside Mazda, it symbolizes the company’s flexible thinking, creativity, and vitality and shows the automaker’s determination to continue developing its brands and ensure continuous growth.

The Mazda-Go three-wheeled truck was the company’s first automobile

Mazda claims it first identified as an automaker in 1931 after making its first vehicle, a three-wheeled truck named Mazda-Go Type-DA. After the bombing of Hiroshima in World War II, the Mazda-Go helped rebuild the city as a huge addition to the automotive market.

Being part bike and part pick-up truck, the Mazda-Go started gaining popularity since it worked well in carrying goods and people. Only 66 bikes were sold in the first year, but the company was motivated by the numbers.

After discovering that the Mazda-Go started and successfully completed a 1,678-mile journey, it considerably rose in popularity. Also, it became prevalent in Japan because of its pick-up bed, which always came in handy. The automaker began exporting the Mazda-Go truck to China in 1962 and has been making new nameplates ever since, dominating other major brands in the automotive market.


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