Through all processes of the value chain, Mazda pursues innovation that leads to the resolution of social challenges. To achieve maximum effects in implementing innovation initiatives, such as next-generation product technology development and production technology development for Monotsukuri Innovation, Mazda has been enhancing collaboration with business partners, universities/research institutions, and administrative organs.
Innovation to Pursue the Mazda Brand
With the aim of developing innovative vehicles that exceed the expectations of its stakeholders, Mazda has promoted company-wide efforts to review the vehicle-manufacturing processes from scratch. In FY March 2016, these efforts were highly appreciated both inside and outside Japan.
Innovation in Base Technologies “SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY”
The basic policy of Sustainable Zoom-Zoom, Mazda’s long-term vision for technology development, is to provide all customers who purchase Mazda vehicles with driving pleasure as well as outstanding environmental and safety performance. To achieve this, Mazda is engaged in research and development aimed at creating the world’s best functions with the maximum efficiency. SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY*1, which the Company has introduced to its models since 2011, has achieved comprehensive improvements in base technologies, such as enhancing the efficiency of powertrain components including the engine and transmission, reducing vehicle body weight, and improving aerodynamics. In developing SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, much focus was placed on enhancing collaboration among Mazda’s various internal divisions/departments, as well as among Mazda and external suppliers and universities/research institutes.
Innovations of SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY*2
New-generation gasoline engine (SKYACTIV-G):
SKYACTIV-G boasts a record compression ratio of 14:1, an unprecedented figure for a mass production gasoline engine and improves both fuel efficiency and torque performance by around 15% compared with similar existing engines.
New-generation diesel engine (SKYACTIV-D)
SKYACTIV-D, with its world-leading compression ratio of 14:1, provides fuel economy improvement of around 20% over conventional diesel engines.
*1 It covers all Mazda’s base technologies such as engine, transmission, chassis, body.
*2 Mazda data as of Nobember 2012. Compression ratio and improvements in fuel economy and torque vary depending on specification
Innovation in Vehicle-Manufacturing Processes through "Monotsukuri Innovation"
In line with its efforts to satisfy diverse customer needs and attract many customers by manufacturing vehicles that embody Sustainable Zoom-Zoom, Mazda is working to significantly improve its business efficiency by increasing product development/manufacturing efficiency.
Upholding the objective of realizing both “diversity that enhances product competitiveness” and “commonality that improves manufacturing economies of scale” at a high level, Mazda launched “Monotsukuri Innovation,” an initiative to review all vehicle-manufacturing processes from scratch, and is promoting it on a global scale.
The integrated planning initiative of the Monotsukuri Innovation involves close collaboration among product development, manufacturing and purchasing departments, as well as suppliers. They plan together the models to be introduced in the future across the vehicle ranks and segments from a five or ten-year perspective. This initiative has resulted in improved quality, brand strength and profit margins, while enabling flexible response to requirements for manufacturing several models with different production scales and changes in production volume.
Results of Monotsukuri Innovation
(Production line of SKYACTIV engine)
Mazda Digital Innovation (MDI)
Mazda has been pushing ahead with the Mazda Digital Innovation (MDI), an initiative aimed at reforming work processes by introducing the latest IT technologies. In MDI Phase 1 (1996– 2008), the Company promoted innovations in product development and manufacturing processes by employing CAD/CAM technologies, contributing to the efficient development and production of new-generation models with SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY. MDI Phase 2 began in April 2016, in response to the advancement of IT technologies and the diversification of customer needs. In this phase, the Company has expanded the target of the initiative from the product development and manufacturing fields to the entire value chain, including the fields of sales, service, purchasing and logistics, and is promoting innovations in these fields to address business challenges in the mid- to long-term.
New Control Technology for Responsive Driving and Enhanced Safety and Peace of Mind
Mazda has been pushing ahead with the development of SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS, a series of new-generation vehicle motion control technologies. These technologies provide integrated control of the engine, transmission, chassis and body to enhance the car's Jinba-ittai*3 driving feel—a sense of connectedness between car and driver that distinguishes Mazda vehicles. The first in the series, G-Vectoring Control (GVC), was released in May 2016. GVC is the world's first control system to vary engine torque in response to steering inputs in order to provide integrated control of lateral and longitudinal acceleration forces and optimize the vertical load on each wheel for smooth and efficient vehicle motion.*4 Optimizing the load on each tire brings the movements of the car more in line with the driver's intentions, reducing the need for steering corrections, including many that are made unconsciously. This helps reduce driver fatigue on long drives and makes changes in the acceleration forces acting upon vehicle occupants smoother, reducing torso sway and making for a more comfortable ride. In addition, GVC significantly improves handling and stability on wet, snowy and unpaved roads.
*3 Mazda’s-unique driving philosophy, literally, “rider and horse, are one.” Mazda aims to create oneness between the car and the driver, just as a horse and rider communicate through feeling, thereby realizing the very best driving experience.
*4 As of June 2016, according to Mazda data
i-ACTIV AWD, a 4WD System Combining Excellent All-road Ability with Outstanding Fuel Economy
Mazda has developed i-ACTIV AWD, a new-generation all-wheel-drive system designed to provide safety and comfort in any driving conditions, such as on rainy highways or a snowy mountain roads, while minimizing fuel consumption. i-ACTIV AWD detects tiny signs of front wheel slippage that a driver cannot feel and proactively controls the distribution of torque between front and rear wheels to eliminate wasteful tire slippage. Using many sensors to accurately detect the driver’s intentions, road and driving conditions that can affect tire slippage, i-ACTIV AWD instantaneously calculates the optimal amount of torque and transmits it to the rear wheels. This enables secure take-off, acceleration, cornering and braking, without letting the tires slip in any direction. On dry road surfaces with good traction, the car works almost like a front-wheel-drive vehicle and achieves what was long considered difficult for 4WD systems: excellent all-road ability and outstanding fuel economy.
Design Theme, KODO – Soul of Motion
Mazda sees a car not as an object, but a living entity. The Company wants to make the relationship between driver and car one based on emotion, like that of a horse and rider. Therefore, a car cannot be a simple tool; it must have the vitality, expressiveness and power of a living creature. In order to realize this ideal, the Company announced the KODO—Soul of Motion design theme, which brings cars to life, in 2010. This design philosophy has been applied to all new-generation models globally since the Mazda CX-5 launched in 2012, and has been highly acclaimed around the world.
New Design Theme,
KODO - Soul of Motion
The Future of Mazda Design – Mazda RX-VISION
Believing that heart-stirring beauty and the depth of an artifact made with soul are necessary to sublimate the philosophy of KODO—bringing cars to life—to an even higher level, Mazda has proposed an ideal of the “Car as Art.” In a tenacious quest for beauty, the Company has sought artistic forms that can only be created by the human hand*5. Honing its expression of beauty, the Company embodied this in the Mazda RX-VISION rotary-powered sports car concept unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in the fall of 2015. Mazda aimed to give it the beautiful, flowing proportions unique to an orthodox FR*6 sports car and a form reflecting Japanese aesthetics, such as a dignified feeling of tension and suppressed glamour produced by stripping away unnecessary elements. The Mazda RX-VISION design, which represents the future of Mazda design, has gained critical acclaim worldwide. *7
*5 Even in this age of digital design, Mazda devotes great effort to design development using industrial clay models crafted by human hands.
*6 Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout
Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year: One of the grand prizes awarded at the Festival Automobile International. It is awarded to the vehicle that best embodies design creativity and emerging trends, chosen by a jury of experts and enthusiasts from the world of motorsports, architecture, fashion and design.
2016 Car Design Award (concept car category): A world-renowned award originally launched in 1984 and resurrected in 2016 after a 19-year suspension. An 11-member jury of editors representing high-profile car magazines on four continents selects the winners from vehicles presented during the past year in the categories of mass-produced vehicles, concept cars, and brand design.
Establishing a Global Production Framework
To enable each production site both in Japan and overseas to carry out high-quality and highly efficient production activities that improve the Mazda brand value and learn from each other at the same time, Mazda has promoted the Global Manufacturing Network since 2013. Production sites in Japan (the Hiroshima and Hofu Plants) take the initiative in fostering skills in process management and improvement (“workplace capabilities”) to enable overseas sites that differ in maturity to conduct production activities at the same levels of quality and efficiency. Programs set at each site facilitate simultaneous, even, and high-quality production during the preparation phase of mass production of new models, in addition to daily production activities.
In promoting this initiative, Mazda has held Global Manufacturing Forum annually since 2014 to share its medium to long-term goals, as well as successful examples and problems of each of its sites. In March 2016, the third Global Manufacturing Forum was held in China.*8 To support overseas sites in improving their workplace capabilities in daily practices, the Company actively hosts various forms of personnel exchange, such as accepting trainees in Japan from overseas sites and dispatching skilled personnel to overseas sites.
Global plant vision
Comments of Participants at the Third Global Manufacturing Forum
- ■ A system in which employees can exercise their abilities is being developed through the GMN activities.
- ■ An environment in which overseas sites can help each other is being established.
- ■ Globally common evaluation standards should be developed. This will enable improvement through competition among production sites.
*8 Held overseas for the first time at Changan Mazda Automobile Co., Ltd. (CMA), a vehicle production site in Nanjing.
Establishing Global Logistics Framework
Mazda has established a global logistics framework involving overseas logistics sites. To enable optimal transportation in terms of delivery time, cost, and the quality of finished vehicles and parts on a global basis, the Company encourages the logistics sites to share problems related to means or routes of transportation and successful cases of improvement. The Company also holds a Global Logistics Meeting annually, in order to reinforce ties within the entire Mazda Group.
Global Logistics Meeting
[China] Training Workshop ”Densho Dojo” for Handing Down the “Takumi” Craftsman’s Spirit
Changan Mazda Automobile Co., Ltd. (CMA) has set up the learning center ”Densho Dojo”modeled on the Hiroshima Plant in Japan, for the purpose of developing skilled human resources and improving the quality of skills. Upholding the spirit of “takumi,” or “craftsman,” as its main theme, the workshop encourages trainees to enhance their understanding of manufacturing technologies, focusing on the impact of skills and know-how learned from skilled engineers on design and quality. There is an internal skills qualification system, which contributes to improving the motivation of engineers.
Press Mold Maintenance Training Workshop
Having completed the press mold maintenance training program at the Hiroshima Plant in Japan, I was appointed as a master trainer in March 2016.
I will make full use of the knowledge and skills I have acquired at the Hiroshima Plant to improve the CMA workshop and develop its trainers, and hand down the skills of meticulous press mold finishing that can give shape to the KODO design in Mazda vehicles.