The company formally adopted the Mazda name in 1984, though every automobile sold from the beginning bore that name.
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Mazda began as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd, founded in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1920.
Toyo Cork Kogyo renamed itself to Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. In the late 1920s the company had to be saved from bankruptcy by Hiroshima Saving Bank and other business leaders in Hiroshima.
In 1931 Toyo Kogyo moved from manufacturing machine tools to vehicles with the introduction of the Mazda-Go autorickshaw.
Toyo Kogyo produced weapons for the Japanese military throughout the Second World War, most notably the series 30 through 35 Type 99 rifle.
In 2007, Mazda produced almost 1.3 million vehicles for global sales, the majority of which (nearly 1 million) were produced in the company's Japanese plants, with the remainder coming from a variety of other plants worldwide.
Mazda's company website states that its name is derived from Ahura Mazda, with Mazda meaning wisdom.
Ahura Mazda (Persian: اهورا مزدا-Sanskrit: असुर मेधा [Asura-Medhā]) the god of light, intelligence, and wisdom from the first civilization in West Asia, Persia is also the name of God to Zoroastrians.
The company website also notes that the name also derives from the name of the company's founder, Jujiro Matsuda.