Mazda's history as an automaker began in 1931 with the unveiling of a 3-wheel truck known as the Mazda-Go DA Type. The company was aiming for class-leading performance and maximum loading capacity, domestic production of various parts including the engine, and the setting up of a consistent volume production system. The engine was built in-house and had a transmission with a reverse gear, a rear differential and other components patented by Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. (predecess or of Mazda Motor Corporation). The introduction of Mazda-Go was a pivotal moment in the history of Japan's 3-wheel truck market.
Japan's automotive history began with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, Ltd. (currently Mitsubishi Motors) which commenced production of its Mitsubishi A Type passenger car in 1917. Nissan, in its previous form was established as an automaker in 1933, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. (currently Toyota) completed its A1 Type passenger car in 1935, and Honda was established later in 1946. In this historical context, Mazda was an early starter in automobile manufacturing compared with other Japanese companies.
The name Mazda came into existence with the production of the Company's first 3-wheel trucks. Other candidates for a model name included Sumera-Go, Tenshi-Go and more. But these were swept aside when it was decided to name it in honor of the family name of then company president, Jujiro Matsuda. The name was also associated with Ahura Mazda (God of Light), with the hope that it would brighten the image of these compact vehicles. The Mazda lettering was used in combination with the corporate emblem of Mitsubishi, which was responsible for sales, to produce the Toyo Kogyo 3-wheel truck registered trademark.
Toyo Kogyo was seriously involved in advertising activities from early on. The company took the lead in this with its 1936 Kagoshima-Tokyo Caravan Campaign. With four Mazda-Go KC Type and one Mazda-Go DC Type vehicles on the road, the caravan covered over 2700 km between Kagoshima and Tokyo in 25 days, in an effort to promote excellence and appeal to customers. The caravan campaign contributed enormously to the increased sale of Mazda vehicles. This first foray into the 3-wheel truck business later turned into a 3-wheel truck caravan boom. In the post-war era of 1950, Mazda began selling the CA Type one-ton truck powered by a 1157 cc engine, and from there went on to build passenger vehicles.