Big anniversaries seem to be the flavour of the month lately, with Alfa Romeo celebrating its 100th and Range Rover marking its 40th, both within a couple of weeks. It's now Mazda's turn though as it takes a look back at 90 years of business in the industry.
Mazda first entered the world in 1920. After major company changes in 1927 that dropped the production of tools in exchange for the production of motorcars, Mazda released its first car, the Mazdago - a three-wheel utility motorbike - in 1931.
It wasn't until 30 years later, though, when the Mazda motor company really made an impact on the evolution of the car. Mazda bought the rights to Felix Wankel's rotary engine design and announced it would adapt it to the future specifications of its four-wheeled motorcars. Mazda launched its first technological revolution, rotary-equipped Cosmo Sport in 1967.
The company went on to produce and refine the rotary engine, releasing a number of cars targeting various markets. Although the rotary engine was integrated into mostly sports platforms, Mazda released a piston engine version of each of the RX-badged sports cars as well - such as the RX-3 and 808. Only minor panel and trimming changes were made to distinguish the rotary variants from the piston ones.
The latest iteration of the rotary engine from Mazda comes in a form utilising hydrogen technology, and, it's not limited to the sports car market either, like Mazda's previous rotary-equipped cars. The Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE and Mazda5 Hydrogen RE are available in the Japanese market, as well as some European markets, where hydrogen facilities are incorporated into the infrastructure.
The hydrogen-powered cars are at the cutting edge of environmental preservation and motorised transport. They both prove hydrogen power doesn't have to be boring or designated to futuristic platforms that look like something from the Jetsons. It's a shame Australia's infrastructure doesn't cater for such technology, otherwise we too could enjoy complete pollution-free motoring at a fraction of the cost of petrol.
As it approaches centenary, Mazda is now focusing on weight-reduction. The company has developed computer software that allows them to build cars that are much lighter in weight, which equals less engine stress and lower emissions and fuel consumption. Using various light-weight materials, such as high-tensile steel, and body bonding and welding methods, Mazda is becoming one of the first manufacturers who are leading the way in reduced-weight model evolution.
It's these steps and mechanical achievements that has allowed Mazda to remain a strong brand in the industry for over 90 years. Good on you Mazda, keep it up. And happy birthday!