Mazda Redefines Brand With New Kai Concept Styling
Mazda must be the most radical, most stubborn and most admired carmaker in Japan. More than any other manufacturer in this tiny nation of 125 million people and eight carmakers, Mazda believes that automotive design should be beautiful and has made this goal a companywide priority through its Kodo design language. The firm also believes that electrification is not everything and that the current combustion engine still has plenty of life and room for improvement.
Spurred on by those philosophies, the Hiroshima-based company has developed a huge following and sales success globally, and in the process, captured numerous design and car of the year awards. At the 2016 Festival Automobile International in Paris, a major automotive design award event, Mazda’s RX Coupe won “The Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year” prize. Its Vision Coupe concept then picked up the same award the following year. The firm’s MX-5 made history in 2016 when it became Japan’s first ever model to snatch both the World Car of the Year and the World Car Design of the Year awards.
In terms of sales, Mazda hangs on to a 1.7% share of the U.S. market and is witnessing strong growth among its SUV models. In Australia, however, the firm is a sales powerhouse, ranked at No 2 with just under 10% market share. The reason? Mazda styles cars that appeal to both men and women buyers, offer unique technologies and handling, deliver competitive performance, pricing and class-topping fuel economy, and enjoy a sporty brand image thanks to its F1 support race in Australia and its various motorsport activities in the U.S. and Europe.
Mazda is also the only Japanese carmaker associated with a signature color—soul red. Sure, Subaru might have its WR (World Rallying) blue for its small STi sports car lineup, but Mazda’s soul red encompasses the entire range and is immediately recognizable on even small body panels. Combined with its unique Kodo styling, color and Skyactiv technologies, this combination defines the Mazda brand and separates it from all the others.
Mazda’s head of design, Ikuo Maeda says, “We decided not to get on the mobility bandwagon that’s pushing electrification like everyone else, but rather nurture our unique brand identity, and make beautiful cars with signature Skyactiv technologies.” Skyactiv refers to a development process that employs reinforced lightweight engines, transmissions, chassis and suspension systems that promote better fuel economy and cleaner emissions while offering improved performance at the same time.
Now, Mazda is preparing to redefine the brand yet again. Unveiled at last October’s Tokyo Motor Show, and exposed to the American public for the first time at March’s New York Auto Show, the Kai Concept points Mazda’s design in a whole new direction called Single Motion.
When Maeda became design director in 2009, he introduced the company’s new Kodo design language and in so doing, created one of the strongest brand identities in Japan. He and his team are now going to take things to the next level. As Maeda explains, the current companywide Double Motion styling seen on every model from the MX-5 to the Mazda6 to the CX-5, uses a free-flowing form with strong, accented edges. Within the next few years, this design language will be remolded from Double Motion into a Single Motion theme that does away with edges and instead focuses on a new treatment of light and shadows, a process that generates ever-changing reflections on smooth surfaces. “This is Mazda’s future design language,” he says.
To be honest, Mazda’s existing brand-wide design language, in which every model employed similar grille and headlight designs and side profiles that almost looked swappable between models, was starting to look a little tired and old.
This striking Kai Concept hints at what the next generation Mazda 3 will look like, and this futuristic fresh look is just what Mazda needs to strengthen its unique brand image and keep the industry focused on its stubborn ways of not following the leader into the electrification maze.
source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterlyon/2018/04/30/mazdas-stuns-industry-with-new-styling-behold-the-breathtaking-kai-concept/#7c6120e26342