Mazda has announced that cumulative production in Japan reached 50 million units on May 15, when the carmaker held a commemorative ceremony at its Hofu plant in Yamaguchi prefecture. The milestone was achieved 86 years and seven months after Mazda produced its first three-wheeled truck in October 1931.

“Mazda began making cars 86 years ago, and now we’ve reached 50 million units of production in Japan. Even making 1 million cars a year, it would take 50 years to reach this milestone, showing just how long Mazda’s history is,” said representative director, president and CEO Masamichi Kogai.

“Moving forward, Mazda will continue to build a strong brand through a variety of initiatives. Our plants in Hofu and Hiroshima will continue to evolve and act as parent factories, rapidly deploying their technologies and skills to our overseas plants. I’d like us all to work together to ensure these plants continue to embody the kind of technical prowess that does justice to Japan’s proud history of monotsukuri,” he added.

Mazda began its journey as an automaker in 1931, when it started producing three-wheeled trucks in Hiroshima. In 1960 it commenced production of the R360 Coupe micro-mini, marking a bold entry into the passenger car market. Manufacturing started at Hofu in in 1982, and domestic production duties have since been shared between the Hofu and Hiroshima plants.

Mazda says that the production techniques and flexible production systems developed at these plants have helped it grow. Mixed production lines capable of producing different models on a single line has allowed Mazda to churn out multiple models at low volumes, overcoming the traditional tradeoff between product variety and competitiveness and volume efficiency.

In 2016 and 2017, the company took steps to increase its production flexibility for SUVs and create a framework capable of responding quickly to changes in demand. The domestic plants take the lead with Mazda’s global car-making; production techniques and technologies established in Japan are then rolled out to overseas facilities, like those in Thailand and Malaysia.

Mazda aims to sell 1,660,000 cars this fiscal year – the final year of its Structural Reform Stage 2 medium-term business plan – and plans to establish a global production framework capable of manufacturing two million units annually by fiscal year ending March 2024. Mass-production of vehicles featuring next-generation technologies and design is slated to start in 2019, and the company will continue expanding its production framework in an effort to get cars to customers as quickly as possible.

“Aspiring to create a world in which cars can co-exist sustainably with people, society and the earth, Mazda will continue to enrich people’s live through various touchpoints, including the manufacture of high-quality cars, and become a brand with which customers feel a strong emotional bond,” the company says.

Here’s to the next milestone, zoom-zoom.