Mazda North American Operations
|Website||Mazda North American Operations|
Mazda North American Operations or Mazda Motor of America, Inc. (commonly known as MNAO) is Mazda Motor Corporation's North American arm, and constitutes the largest component of that company outside Japan. The company has its headquarters in Irvine, California and is headed by James J. O'Sullivan.
Toyo Kogyo entered the United States market as Mazda Motor America (MMA) in 1970 with a single car, the RX-2. The next year there were five cars: The compact Familia-based 1200 and R100, the larger Capella-based 616 and RX-2 and the large 1800. For 1972, the line expanded again with the addition of the RX-3 and B1600; the 1200 and 616 were replaced by the similar 808 and 618, respectively; and the boring 1800 was gone. The piston-powered 618 was gone the next year, as was the R100, but the 1.2 L 1200 was back for a single year.
Mazda quickly rose in prominence, helped in large part to their use of Wankel engines. 1974 was the year of the rotary with the introduction of both the Rotary Pickup and RX-4. In fact, the 808 and B1600 were the only piston-engined Mazdas offered in the United States that year. 1975 had a similar lineup, minus the retired RX-2.
Mazda had designed the REPU and RX-4 with the American market in mind, but the energy crisis was looming. The company's sales were slipping due to the Wankel's reputation as a gas hog, so Mazda responded with the reintroduction of a Familia-based car powered by a tiny piston engine, the 1.3 L Mizer. That car, and 1977 GLC (its next-generation brother) saved the company in the United States with terrific reviews and better sales.
Also introduced in 1976 was the Wankel-powered RX-5 Cosmo. But the writing was on the wall for Mazda's mainstream Wankel lineup - every one of the older "rotary" models was cancelled after 1978.
Even though the Wankel engine had lost its allure, Mazda persevered with the technology and found a niche for it. The 1979 RX-7 rotary was the company's greatest image-builder yet, casting a halo over the rest of the model line. Also relaunched that year was the company's entrant in the midsize market, the 626.
The RX-7 and 626 buoyed Mazda's American fortunes enough for it to expand. Mazda built an American plant (now AutoAlliance International) to build the 626, bringing the company to Ford's attention. The two joined together on the 626's 2-door offshoots, the MX-6 and Ford Probe.
Mazda finished the 1980s the same way as the 1970s, with an image-building sports car. The Miata was another tremendous halo car for the company, kicking off an industry boom in the sports car segment. The third-generation RX-7, introduced in 1993, was much liked, but few were sold, causing an end of the model's importation just three years later. Mazda consolidated its North American operations as Mazda North American Operations in 1997.
In 2007 Mazda recorded their best selling year in the US since 1994 in selling 296,000 vehicles.
Current or recent Mazda North American product line:
- Mazda2 — subcompact car (2010-present)
- Mazda3 — compact car (2003-present)
- Mazdaspeed3 — high-performance version (2007-present)
- Mazda6 — midsize car (2002-present)
- Mazda5 — compact minivan (2005-present)
- Tribute — compact SUV (2001-2011)
- CX-5 — crossover SUV (2012-present)
- CX-7 — crossover SUV (2007-2012)
- CX-9 — crossover SUV (2007-present)
- MX-5 / Miata — roadster / convertible (1989-present)
- RX-8 — coupe (2003-2012)
- "Contact Us." Mazda North American Operations. Retrieved on October 29, 2009.