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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mazda past and present...

Mazda past and present

Submitted by yani on Fri, 11/09/2009 - 8:00pm

The Mazda 2 sedan was first unveiled at the 2007 Guangzhou Motor Show

The story of Mazda Motor Corporation is one outside of convention - keeping its unique identity, and like the city of Hiroshima where it is based, one of rebirth and positive human spirit.
To understand what makes Mazda tick, journalists from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand were invited to attend a brand forum held at its headquarters in Hiroshima recently.
Also journalists were given a preview of the facelifted version of the Mazda 2 hatchback and sedan.

Mazda 2

Launched in 2007, the third generation Mazda 2 has been sold in over 70 countries worldwide.

"To date, the Mazda 2 has garnered a total of 51 awards from around the world, including the coveted World Car of the Year Title in 2008," says Ryoichi Kishimoto, programme manager of the Mazda 2.
The facelifted Mazda 2 hatchback and sedan will be assembled in the AutoAlliance Co Ltd plant in Rayong, Thailand for the South East Asian market.
The new Mazda 2 changes is mostly cosmetic, adopting the bolder, new 'smiley' family face which can be seen on the new Mazda 3 and facelifted RX-8 and MX-5.

The sedan variant would only be made available to the South East Asian market as the hatchback is already proving popular in existing markets such as Japan and Europe.
"The new corporate face of Mazda cars are designed to be better in pedestrian as well as occupant crash safety performance," says Akira Tamatani, chief designer of the Mazda 2.
"These recommendations were based on data from our crash test experts," he says.

There is no Euro NCAP rating for crash safety for the Mazda 2 as of yet.
"It took us 19 months to develop the sedan variant from the hatchback," says Kishimoto.
"We wanted the Mazda 2 to compete in the South East Asian region where it is a sedan driven market."

The two units unveiled were still pre-production models, with production of both the facelift hatchback and sedan starting in Thailand in October.
Nakamine says that the plant in Thailand has a production capacity of 120,000 trucks and 100,000 cars annually.
Besides assembling Mazda pick-up trucks and the Mazda 2, the plant has also been equipped to produce the Ford Fiesta.

"We plan to launch the sedan later this year," says Shahidin Sahamid, marketing manager of Bermaz Motor Sdn Bhd, sole importer and distributor of Mazda cars in Malaysia.

"However Mazda has expressed its desire for the sedan to be launched alongside with the facelifted hatchback when it comes out early next year. So tentatively we are looking at a first quarter of 2010 launch."
According to Shahidin, the pricing and specifications for the Mazda 2 are yet to be confirmed.
He hints that the Mazda 2 will be competitively priced for the B-segment, with the hatchback commanding a slightly higher premium.

History of Mazda

"It is important to know and understand Mazda, where it came from and what it is," says Yuji Nakamine, managing executive office and general manager of overseas sales division for Mazda Motor Corporation.
Founded by Jujiro Matsuda, a local of Hiroshima, he was the son of a fisherman but grew up to become an inventor and entrepreneur.

He took over a local manufacturer known as Toyo Cork Kogyo Co Ltd in 1921, before turning it into a manufacturer of motor vehicles 10 years later.
Then named Toyo Kogyo Co Ltd, the company went on to produce some of the most innovative and unique cars of its time.
Although every model sold bore the name Mazda, the Toyo Kogyo Company didn't adopt the name till 1984.

Mazda is considered to be the commercially successful manufacturer of the Wankel rotary engine, beginning with the Cosmo Sport of 1967 and the RX series of cars.

Picture above: Editor Yamin Vong (centre) in this picture of a media drive for the Mazda 626 in 1981.

However, Mazda's focus on developing its rotary engines became one of the main causes of Mazda's downfall during the advent of the 1973 oil crisis.
Even so, Mazda persisted and kept to its belief in the rotary engine.
In 1991, it became the first and only Japanese car manufacturer to win the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, as well as the only victory in Le Mans history to be taken by a non-piston engine car.

In 1979, Mazda began a partnership with the American Ford Motor Company when Ford took a seven per cent financial stake in Mazda.

Affected by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Mazda was acquired by Ford with a 33.9 per cent stake. However, the acquisition turned out beneficial for both parties as Mazda and Ford were able to save money on development costs through technology sharing.

The Hiroshima automobile manufacturer managed to emerge independent last year as Ford sold 20 per cent of its stake in Mazda, with the latter party buying off another 6.8 per cent shortly after.
"Mazda is a brand whose history is defined by examples of daring to be different, innovative and persistent. In fact, history has shown that Mazda succeeds when it dares to be different," says John Abel, general manager of Mazda's global brand management department.
"By looking back at its history we were able to draw its brand DNA from that and develop Mazda's 'Zoom-Zoom' theme."

Zoom-Zoom theme

Introduced in Malaysia in 1991,the MX-5 would go on to become one of the most successful sports cars in the world.

It was said that the Mazda MX-5 is the car that shouldn't have been made by a Japanese car maker. But it became one of the best selling sports cars in history.
The MX-5 is renowned for its purity in the joy of driving and it's the one car in the Mazda range which epitomises the 'Zoom-Zoom' theme.

Developed from Mazda's brand DNA of making stylish, insightful and spirited cars, the theme 'Zoom-Zoom' was adopted in 2001.
"Far from being a childish expression, Zoom-Zoom can be best described as the joy of motion first felt in one's childhood," says Abel.
"It connects on an emotional level and we recognise it as an essential human emotion. This theme is essentially the emotion of motion and it is an idea that Mazda values."
The brand transformation started in 2002 with the first generation of 'Zoom-Zoom' products, the Mazda 6.
Mazda claims that 12 out of the 14 top markets where the 'Zoom-Zoom' theme is used, it is recognised as the top three in market awareness.
Abel admits that Mazda will be an alternative to mainstream brands and acknowledges that its cars may not be for everybody.

"But I like to think that it is for a special few who really love driving, who are young at heart, passionate and progressive," he says.
Abel believes that while Mazda is aware of the demand for an environmental friendly solution, it isn't going to change its brand DNA.
"Mazda will still continue to bring that same spirit of innovation to take up the challenge of fuel efficient solutions and sustainable technologies," he says.
Technologies such as its unique engine start-stop technology known as 'iStop', Aqua-tech paint, the development of carbon neutral bioplastics and a fleet of hydrogen power rotary engine cars are some of the steps Mazda is taking towards green solutions.

"Mazda isn't avoiding the issue, we aim to increase the fuel efficiency of our cars by 30 per cent by 2015, with environmentally friendly vehicles throughout the range," says Nakamine. "We will be addressing our environmental strategy during the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show and will be focusing our research and development into hybrid technologies and fuel efficient technologies. We are currently working on new power trains and one which will be ready by 2011."

Mazda presence in Malaysia

The history of Mazda cars in Malaysia can be traced back to the rear-engine P600 Carol from 1963 (below)

The year 1967 heralded the introduction of the beautiful Bertone styled 1500 sedan (picture below) and the Mazda 1000 sedan.

Mazda was then the alternative brand but in 1972, Mazda was accepted as the Japanese mainstream brand. Years before the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic began fighting for its top spot in car sales, the Mazda 1000 emerged as the top seller that year for the category of cars below 1,000cc in Malaysia.

Perhaps Mazda's signature has always been the application of the Wankel Rotary engine, with the introduction of the R100 coupes powered by a 982cc twin-rotor rotary engine in 1969.

Other models which found its way into Malaysia were the Capella RE, otherwise known as the RX-2 in 1971 and RX-4 in 1973.

In 1973 Asia Motor Sdn Bhd, then importer and distributor of Mazda Cars in Malaysia, was contracted to supply 73 Mazda 1300 station wagons to the Ministry of Works and Telecommunications as service vehicles.
Also in 1973 the Mazda 808 sedan, successor to the popular 1000, was named Sunday Mail Car of the Year by an overwhelming margin.
Asia Motor sold its 10,000th Mazda 808 in 1977, just as its 808 Coupes charted a number of race victories the same year.

However, the Mazda franchise in Malaysia began its decline in the early years of the 1980s. Eventually, the Mazda franchise slipped from Asia Motor, which was beset by family dispute over company ownership, going to Cycle and Carriage Bintang Bhd in 1989.

Despite bringing in iconic models such as the 323, 626, Lantis, Mx-5 and Fighter pick-up truck, the Mazda brand slipped into near anonymity in Malaysia as it was overshadowed by the other Japanese brands.

After 18 years under Cycle and Carriage, the Mazda franchise was acquired by Bermaz Motor Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Berjaya Group.
Since then, Bermaz has been on a marketing blitz with the introducion of four models - the Mazda 5, 6, CX-9 and MX-5 that same year.
In 2009 Bermaz introduced another two, the second generation RX-8 and Mazda 3.

Like the Mazda 808 before it, the second generation Mazda 6 was picked as the New Straits Times-Maybank Car of the Year in 2008.
Meanwhile, Mazda's flagship, the CX-9, also picked up the Premium SUV of the Year award that very same year.

With the vacant position for a B-segment competitor to be introduced next year, Mazda looks set for a new renaissance in Malaysia under the stewardship of Bermaz Motors with the soon to come Mazda 2.

By Daniel Wong

End of Article...

My (Jeff Lim's) memories of Mazda Cars...

Well, my families, especially my dad and his brother are BIG SUPPORTERS of Mazda Cars. It all started in 1976, my "Tua Pek" owned a Mazda Capella 1600. My Grandfather also bought a Mazda Jumbo 1000 at the same year. Then in 1979, my dad bought his 1st NEW CAR, the 1979 white Mazda 626 1800 for only RM18,800 at that time. Three years later in 1982, he "downsized" to a white Mazda 323 1.5 Sedan (bought at RM17,000 OTR only) as he was expecting a Company car (which did not arrive until 1986 in the form of Volvo 240). Later, I found out that the Mazda 323 was "Japanese car of the Year 1981/82".

His passion for Mazda Cars continued in 1990, though it was NOT REALLY a Mazda rather a Sister of Mazda Familia GT, a BLACK Ford TX3 1.8i bought for RM56,000 OTR back then. He sold off in 1995.

It wasn't until 2003 my dad bought another used Mazda, this time for his daughter (my youngest sister). It's no other than 1992 white Mazda 323 Astina 1.6GLX. He bought it for RM21,000. The car had "Kuching No Plate" and very low mileage and well maintained. It was sold off in 2007 at a mere RM5k. In 2005, ie. 2 years later, my dad bought another "TWIN" of Mazda 626 for RM42,000, this time in the form of "Ford Telstar Premier (V6-body), 1999 model. I'm still enjoying driving the Telstar today.

The Telstar came with the Legendary Rear "E-type multi-link suspension" which were invented jointly by Ford and Mazda in 1981. It's still used in today's Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Mazda 6 and Ford Mondeo. Man, I loved to attack corners at speed up to 130km/h in the Ford Telstar. Great fun to drive. Only downside is the HIGH FUEL CONSUMPTION. 50L of petrol good for 320km only - 6.4km/L(averaged).

Till today, I'm still a BIG SUPPORTER of Ford and Mazda cars. My Next car gonna be Mazda 6. Oh! Besides Mazda, I'm also a Supporter of Honda Cars.

That's all folks, thanks for having the time and patience to read this LONG Article.

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