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Mazda: the rebirth of Japanese innovation

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer February 05,2020

Mazda CX-3 and CX-9

Mazda today celebrates 100 years of existence, with a rich history, culture and philosophy that shows the Japanese spirit of innovation, resilience and constant desire to improve, balanced by the soul of the Japanese, to continuously challenge themselves in perfecting their craft and provide better products to its consumers. That for me, is the company’s ikigai, a Japanese philosophy of the company’s purpose to exist.

In my 15+ years of writing, no other car brand has developed, evolved, improved and innovated as much as Mazda. The epiphany for me started in 2013, when Bermaz Auto Philippines took over the reins as Mazda’s distributorship. It was around this same time that Mazda truly rediscovered itself, its soul. From boring re-branded re-badged products, Mazda slowly revamped their line-up to what it is today, filled with exciting and fun to drive models. Today, no other mass market manufacturer has a product line-up that delivers an exhilarating mix of dynamic, stylish and sharp design, cutting-edge technology that is practical and crucially, relevant to the mass market, mixed with an impressive driving feel aimed at making the Mazda ownership experience truly pleasurable. Along with it, Mazda has developed their many core technologies and design language. Mazda has the suite of SkyActiv Technologies to show for (engines, transmissions and chassis), G-Vectoring Control, i-ACTIVSENSE active safety technologies and KODO: Soul Of Motion design theme. Add to that, the infamous rotary engines of long past, which continues to haunt enthusiasts’ fantasies with their manic din at full throttle.

These technological traits are very strong brands on their own, uniquely Mazda and automatically identified as Mazda’s technological triumphs. And distinctly Japanese, devoid of external influence, yet appealing to a truly universal audience.

While Mazda only holds a modest 0.65 percent of the Philippine automotive market share, equating to 2,666 cars sold in 2019, many of Mazda’s clients own multiple models of the brand, citing how happy many of them are with the brand experience, it’s products, after-sales (featuring the innovative and unique Yojin3 program), and a very close relationship with clients, dealers and suppliers, plus great support of the various car clubs that feature Mazdas.

From the all-new Mazda 2, the Mazda 3, Mazda 6, and their crossover line-up of the CX-3, CX-30, CX-5, the new CX-8 and the flagship CX-9, plus of course the MX-5, each Mazda model has a unique and distinct personality that gives it tremendous desirability and appeal to a market that demands sophistication, flair, and finely-honed engineering.

From a motoring journalist’s point-of-view, few companies also give access to their inner working as much as Mazda: we’ve been to two of their proving grounds (Mine Circuit and Miyoshi Proving Ground), driven early prototypes, pre-production prototypes, and then experimental technologies (SkyActiv-X), as much free-time with their designers, engineers and production people, plus even their top-level executives, to engage in a free-flow exchange of ideas and opinions, all highly valued by the people behind what makes Mazda great today.

Mazda 6

This openness of a Japanese company has given the brand flexibility, doing away with the traditional multiple layers of bureaucracy. Though small in size, Mazda has been able to punch well-above its weight and gain attention, using its diminutive size to move swiftly, act quickly and be pro-active in the changing automotive landscape. Case in point: the MX-30, Mazda’s own, independently-developed first ever electric vehicle unveiled during the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show. The MX-30 signals Mazda’s entry to the full EV market in countries where EV’s are feasible, thanks to tax breaks, power generation is cheap and infrastructure is ready. Many other major manufacturers are scrambling and struggling to develop and release their own, but Mazda is proud to be one of the first car manufacturers who have made that jump.

Motorsports is a passionate endeavor for Mazda: with the distinction of being the first Japanese manufacturer winning the 59th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1991 with their 787B Gruppe-C Sports Prototype Racer. Indeed, motorsport has continued to be an invaluable tool for the brand to test and refine their products and technology. Today Mazda competes in TCR, IMSA sports car racing in the United States, and through various Miata/MX-5 one-make race series worldwide. You can feel that same excitement behind the wheel, even when driving Mazda’s crossovers and SUV’s, delivering sharp responsive steering, agile suspension control, confident braking and exciting acceleration.

MX-5 RF

Steven Tan, big boss of Bermaz Auto Philippines, the sole authorized distributor for Mazda vehicles in the country had this to say about the brand’s prospects in the Philippines for 2020 and beyond: The entire Mazda lineup has been refreshed for 2020: Mazda 2, Mazda 3, Mazda 6, MX-5, CX-3, CX-5, CX-8 and CX-9. In terms of global Mazda portfolio, we have the entire range to serve the Filipino client base who is increasingly more discerning of premium products, quality, engineering and safety. We are not resting on our mission to reach for higher standards of customer service in sales and after-sales. Leveraging our recent investment in Mazda Center for Excellence training facility in Cabuyao, Laguna. We believe that the heart of a premium brand is in the product, and the soul lies on the customer loyalty. Customer loyalty retention can only be earned through product excellence and superior ownership experience.

The future indeed looks very bright, promising and exciting from the proud brand from Hiroshima.

SKyActiv D diesel engine

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