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Mazda Motor Corp.

Mazda zooms to the top the green way

By Philippe Le Saux
- Mar 27, 2014
Credit : GMI Post

Mazda North American Operations President and Chief Executive Officer Jim O'Sullivan

In its most recent Light Duty Fuel Economy Trends Report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited Mazda Motor Corp. as the most fuel efficient auto manufacturer in the country with the highest fleet wide adjusted fuel economy performance of 27.1 miles per gallon and the lowest CO2 emissions of 328 g/mi for the 2012 model year.

“During the most challenging times, we decided to continue investing heavily in our next generation of products, which we call SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president & CEO, Mazda North American Operations.

SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, according to Mazda, is “a suite of component and engineering technologies that incorporate ultra high compression ratio gasoline engines, super efficient manual and automatic transmissions, lightweight chassis and body components, reduced rolling resistance and low drag body styling.”

Although the Japanese car maker does not yet offer an electric or hybrid vehicle, Mazda has emerged as an energy efficient company by continuously pushing the limits of its technology. That commitment has reaped dividends in a very challenging North American market.

“Our momentum is due to a lot of the things that we have worked on over the past four to five years. Our plan is to attain 300,000 units within the United States, which will be a very good increase year over year. We will continue that momentum into the next fiscal year,” O’Sullivan stressed.

While the U.S. auto industry has endured several difficult years, Mazda North American Operations is very optimistic over the sector’s imminent recovery.

“The U.S. auto industry has continued to recover from its low point. We as a company are participating in that growth, even outpacing it a little bit in many markets,” said O’Sullivan.

“During the most challenging times, we decided to continue investing heavily in our next generation of products, which we call SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY”

- Jim O’Sullivan, president & CEO, Mazda North American Operations

With market share growing across North America and demand rising across its territory, a recently opened manufacturing and assembly plant in Mexico will help propel the company’s sales to record highs and consolidate the importance of the American market to Mazda’s global operations.

“One of the key growth markets that the company has globally is North America, which is primarily driven by the United States. Even though we have been here for over 40 years selling and distributing Mazda products, we still see that there is further growth potential in this market. This is one of the reasons we are investing in the manufacturing facility and a dedicated assembly plant in Salamanca, Mexico,” explained O’Sullivan.

As Mazda’s sixth generation models, namely the all new CX-5, Mazda6 and Mazda3, continue to gather accolades and gain market share, Mazda North American Operations is looking forward to its future in North America.

“As a company, we see tremendous room for growth for Mazda in North America, specifically within the U.S. We see the auto industry continuing to recover. We have been here for well over 40 years, and we plan on being here for well over another 40. Obviously, there have been brands that have come and gone in this marketplace, but we have remained and continued to grow and meet our commitments to our colleagues in Mazda Corporation,” said O’Sullivan.


- Originally prepared by Global Media for The Japan Times Special Report on Los Angeles 2014 (Credit: Philippe Le Saux)

Nitto Tire

Fueled by enthusiasts

By Philippe Le Saux
- Mar 27, 2014
Credit : GMI Post

Nitto Tire President Tomo Mizutani

“If you ask any Japanese about Nitto Tire, probably 99 percent of them will not know about our brand,” speculated Tomo Mizutani, who came to the United States 20 years ago and has become one of those American Japanese success stories admired in the country.

In 1949, Nitto Tire began as an independent company making high quality mainstream tires. From the beginning, Nitto identified the United States as a potential export market, but only established offices in North America in 1966.

While export sales were sat- isfactory, Nitto found it a tough challenge to penetrate the market and establish manufacturing operations in the country.

To boost its financial position, Nitto Tire agreed to be bought by Toyo Tire in 1999, a deal that did not necessarily change the fortunes of the tire maker.

With annual sales reaching only $6 million and only breaking even some years, Toyo Tire con- sidered discontinuing the Nitto brand in the United States.

“Business was not going well. We were in an idle stage, and just waiting to be sent back home,” recalled Mizutani. “I was inspired by the interesting concepts of negative purchases – such as gas and electric bills – and positive purchases – such as jewelry and perfume. Companies were focusing on negative purchases, but we wanted to make a product that delighted people, so they wanted to acquire our product.”

“Our roots are from Japan, but we were reborn in the U.S. We have a very well-known reputation in the American market.  The majority of the people understand Nitto Tire and know about their quality and design"

- Nitto Tire President Tomo Mizutani

“By that time, I had nothing to lose, and because of that, I decided to take it as an opportunity, and not a risk,” added Mizutani, who began calling clients to sell his little-known brand of tires. The approach was not working, as none of those clients returned his calls.

Mizutani decided to travel across the country and adopt a very personal approach by asking end users what they specifically wanted in a tire.

“Within two years, I visited all 50 states. I started seeing what Americans wanted. I was visiting companies without making any appointments,” he said.

Finally, Mizutani found a niche he wanted to cater to: the racing and off-road enthusiast.

With the knowledge acquired of this niche market, Mizutani submitted a proposal and worked hard to convince company management, until he got approval to launch the project.

Nitto Tire has since become a sought after brand not only by car enthusiasts, but also by the entire motor sports culture. From a $6-million company, Nitto Tire is now a $500 million operation.

Innovation is an everyday pursuit at Nitto Tire, with products made for drifting, trucks and tat- too-inspired designer tires. Every single detail matters when it comes to satisfying its clients.

“We are very dynamic and we are constantly looking for some- thing exciting,” stressed Mizutani.

Today, Nitto has more than 5 million followers on Facebook, with fans posting pictures of Nitto Tires depicted in their tattoos and hairstyles based on Nitto’s tread designs. This is a clear indication of why Nitto has received a variety of awards in the U.S.

“We don’t call the people who use our products customers. We call them friends,” Mizutani added.

Drifting and off-road events are the most popular sports among motor fans, with the strongest presence found in California and Texas.

Inspired by the deeply rooted love of sports among Americans, Mizutani personally designed and created a Nitto Tire championship ring made out of silver, gold and diamonds for race winners.

The Nitto Tire championship ring awarded to its race winners

Mizutani attributes the company’s success to the combination of the Japanese work ethic and the American business culture.

“Our roots are from Japan, but we were reborn in the U.S. We have a very well-known reputation in the American market. The majority of the people understand Nitto Tire and know about their quality and design,” he said.

In a gesture of appreciation, Mizutani named the meeting rooms of their offices in California after the people from the Japan headquarters who showed him support and guidance during the most challenging years.

“This serves as a reminder to all of us of where we came from and of the people who helped us become who we are today,” said Mizutani, who has been tasked by the head office in Japan to oversee the Toyo Tire brand as well.

With factories in Atlanta, Nitto Tire is planning to expand to Europe, Russia and China.

“My priority is to bring Toyo Tire and Nitto Tire up together,” Mizutani stressed.

Numbers aside, Nitto is in for a future of robust growth, judging by the passion of the fans carefully nurtured by Mizutani and his team.


- Originally prepared by Global Media for The Japan Times Special Report on Los Angeles 2014 (Credit: Philippe Le Saux)

Phiaro Group

Designing success in SoCal

By Philippe Le Saux
- Mar 27, 2014
Credit : GMI Post

A rendering of Phiaro Group’s original 75th anniversary concept car

Marking its 75th anniversary this year, the industrial design and manufacturing company Phiaro remains closely associated with the country’s automotive giants.

The company, still family run, has since expanded its expertise in design, modeling, testing, and production to other industries.

Thanks to its long-standing partnership with several Japanese carmakers, Phiaro made its way to the United States, where it has been operating for 25 years and has since acquired other clients in California’s auto industry.

“We have had a strong relationship with Japanese auto manufacturers over the years. They told me they were expanding further into the U.S. and asked me to come along with them. So, we have been here supporting them,” said President Toshihiro Iwasaki.

“California is a key location because of the connections that we have made with many industry leaders here,” Iwasaki added.

Since the company began in the U.S., they have maintained strong relationships with all their clients.

Among intense competition in the industry, Phiaro distinguishes itself by maintaining extremely close partnerships with all its clients.

“There are many competitors out there. However, our customers depend on us because of our ability to produce great quality. This has always been appreciated by our clients, as well as our ability to deliver their products on time,” Iwasaki said.


- Originally prepared by Global Media for The Japan Times Special Report on Los Angeles 2014 (Credit: Philippe Le Saux)

Los Angeles 2014 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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