Mazda uses cork in upcoming limited-edition MX-30 electric SUV

By CARSIFU | 2 April 2020

TOKYO: Mazda is celebrating its centenary by bringing to market a limited-edition electric MX-30 First Edition sport utility vehicle (SUV) that will be arriving in the UK early next year.

As part of the celebration, the Japanese carmaker has gone back to its roots with the usage of cork in all 500 units of the limited-edition SUV's cabin that will be priced at £30,495 (RM166,000) on-the-road.

The company traces its roots back to 1920 when it was known as Toyo Cork Kogyo, hence the usage of cork that will line the floating centre console and inner door handle trim of its first battery-electric production vehicle.

Mazda MX-30 in Soul Crystal Red

This is a tribute to its old operational days in Hiroshima that has led it to become Mazda Corporation today. It is the only car company in the world that started life as a cork producer.

The use of cork in the upcoming MX-30 has been harvested from the bark of cork trees without felling them.

The company started harvesting cork because the region it was in had an abundance of cork trees. With a thriving local shipbuilding industry at that time, sourcing cork from these trees for use in wooden ships was an obvious business to pursue.

1920_01 - Mazda 100 Years - Toyo Cork Kogyo Co. Ltd. is founded in Hiroshima, Japan. Shinpachi Kaizuka becomes president (1)

After a successful career in engineering in Osaka as an apprentice blacksmith, Mazda’s founder - Jujiro Matsuda then started his own metal casting company before returning to Hiroshima to join Toyo Cork Kogyo as a board member in 1921.

Although his expertise was in machinery and engineering, he managed to innovate with the production of pressed cork boards as well as new cork products including insulation and cushioning materials.

After the company was renamed Toyo Kogyo in 1927, Matsuda led the company into machinery manufacturing, which ultimately led to the production of three-wheeled trucks that would later bring about the creation of Mazda Corporation.

Mazda MX-30 Interior - 04

As the engineering part of the company grew, Matsuda decided to divest the cork element of the business to another cork manufacturer - Uchiyama Manufacturing Corp, based in Okayama, east of Hiroshima which took it off Toyo Kogyo’s hands in 1944.

As well as assuming control of the cork manufacturing factories and machines, Uchiyama requested that Toyo Kogyo invest in the business, which led to the formation of Toyo Cork.

Mazda MX-30 Interior - 06

Mazda MX-30 in Ceramic Metallic - 02