In 2007, Mazda produced almost 1.3 million vehicles for global sales, the majority of which were produced in the company’s Japanese plants, with the remainder coming from a variety of other plants worldwide. In 2011, Mazda was the fifteenth biggest automaker by production worldwide.
Mazda began as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd, founded in Japan in 1920. Toyo Cork Kogyo renamed itself to Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. in 1927. Toyo Kogyo moved from manufacturing machine tools to vehicles with the introduction of the Mazda-Go in 1931. Toyo Kogyo produced weapons for the Japanese military throughout the Second World War, most notably the series 30 through 35 Type 99 rifle. The company formally adopted the Mazda name in 1984, though every automobile sold from the beginning bore that name. The Mazda R360 was introduced in 1960, followed by the Mazda engines in 1962.
In 1991, a four-rotor Mazda 787B (2622 cc actual, rated by FIA formula at 4708 cc) won the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race outright. The 787B’s triumph remains unparalleled, as it remains the only non-piston-engined car ever to win at Le Mans, and Mazda is still the only Japanese marque to have won overall at Le Mans – ironically after Nissan had closed down its World Sportscar Championship programme and Toyota had opted to take a sabbatical for most of 1991 in order to develop its 3.5-litre TS010. This led to a ban on rotary engines in the Le Mans race starting in 1992, which has since been rescinded. After the 1991 race, the winning engine was publicly dismantled for internal examination, which demonstrated that despite 24 hours of extremely hard use it had accumulated very little wear.