Two Automakers Are Vying for the Historic Hispano-Suiza Nameplate

This week, two automakers of Mexican heritage — Mazda and Honda — submitted names to the Mexican state government for the nation’s most famous automotive brandplate, the Hispano-Suiza or “hometown Mazda.”

The Mexican Auto Registry first published the names of the two potential licensees on its website on Monday. On Tuesday, Mazda submitted its name. On Wednesday, Honda followed suit.

Mexico’s Automobile Market Heritage Holder (AMHR) — a holding company for hispano-suiza brandplates such as the Mazda MX-5, Ford Mustang and Volkswagen GTI — is currently mulling the proposed licensees. The registry will make a final decision on the name by September or October, it says.

The Latin American giant is seeking a decision by September or October, the Mexican Automobile Registry says. Image by Reuters.

This process is in keeping with Mexico’s rules when it comes to registering the names of its cultural icons. A notice published in March states that AMHR must put forward the names of two potential licensees who have had a minimum of two years of operations in Mexico by March 15, 2019. The registry will go through voting to decide the brandname and make a final decision by September or October.

The Mexican Auto Registry says it is currently in the voting phase. Image by Reuters.

History of the term hispano-suiza

Mexican automakers have been relying on the term hispano-suiza since the early 1900s. The term refers to the booming engine and gearbox technology first developed by hispano-engineers before going global.

Mexico was a “Herculean center of hispano-engine development,” writes Gabriel Grato, a professor at Michigan State University. In one example, the PRI government of 1918-1920 sponsored the construction of a factory in Puebla that was operated by a number of hispano-engineers working for high-profile firms including Detroit-based General Motors, Madson Motor Company and Ford Motor Company, according to Grato.

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