Do you think it is possible to produce vehicles by industries with more agile organizations than those currently existing?
Certainly industrial organizations can and must become more agile and this would benefit both the production and the commercial aspects. Mazda found a solution to this need, summarized in a Japanese term: Monotsukuri Innovation, which literally means “making things done” and has become the banner under which Mazda – worldwide – has revolutionized a series of processes, with the goal of achieving improvements in both business, development and production of cars. This is a way to rethink all the production processes, streamlining them and making them much more efficient: ranging from solutions in the production, such as use the majority of elements in common between the various models of cars, we aim to increase the operational efficiency using common platforms and architectures, establishing at the same time a flexibility that allows us to manage changes in volume and facilitate the introduction of new models with minimum investments.
This is a real organizational revolution that will bring – and the process is already in progress – a series of structural changes that are aimed at increasing both the strength and quality of the brand, and enhance the profit margins, with great benefits both for us and for our sales network.
Could you tell us which are – in your opinion – today the two major problems in this sector?
Certainly – once again – the distribution system, expensive, inefficient and anachronistic.
The second problem is the reputation of the automotive market, seen in almost all countries of the world as something negative, a source of unfair taxation, squeezed by the costs of insurance and fuel.
What do you think that inhibit the manufacturers to focus on LPG and methane to a greater extent (even without incentives) given that it’s a known and available technology which doesn’t require significant investments in the short?
The GPL is an old technology, which cannot be considered neither innovative nor alternative, and not even – coming from crude oil – green. A demonstration is that there are no vehicles LPG Euro6 while – for example – the new diesel Mazda SKYACTIV is compliant to this standard.
The only advantage is the low cost of LPG at the pump, but it is a temporary advantage considering that, if it were to increase the spread, surely the Government would increase taxes, eliminating what is currently the only positive aspect. I would also add that there are no facilities for LPG evenly distributed geographically, not only in Italy but all over the world.
In my opinion the automotive industry needs new technologies that enable real and “untouchable” benefits: I mean for example the SKYACTIV technology, Mazda has recently launched and that – starting from the new compact SUV CX5 – will be adopted on all new generation of vehicles from today. This is a highly innovative technology and, at the same time, very simple: the criteria adopted to develop it started from scratch: the engine has been completely redefined, making it lighter and thus achieving incredible advantages in terms of performance, emissions, operating costs and respect for the environment. This results in not currently taking into account all alternative solutions, such as electric plug-in, hydrogen, etc. because we believe we must concentrate on this technology that we consider really successful, I would say revolutionary, and by which we have already obtained excellent results.
How changed the approach of your company to the Italian market?
Thanks to the great consideration and the maximum priority our Headquarter gives to the Italian market, we now have new products that represent a condensed ideal of what the Italian customer likes and attract their interest: the new design school of Kodo, the new SKYACTIV technologies, the reduced consumption and the ecological aspect.
In Italy there is a car every 1.4 people. Following the U.S. (1.2) we are second in the world; UK, France and Germany are between 1.7 and 1.9. To get an index to the level of other major European countries, we should “eliminate” from the streets – not replacing them – more than 5 millions of cars (and possibly going biking more frequently).
Would not be appropriate policies for discouraging the use of the car in favor of alternative ways of urban and extra-urban mobility?
Talking about discouraging the use of the car to the CEO of an automotive company …
As a citizen I believe that the government should indeed find solutions, which could be aimed at the Euro0 Euro1 still in circulation, for example. But if nowadays we are able to offer real green products I believe this is already a great opportunity to improve urban mobility.
Since 2007 France adopted a system of bonus/malus system that motivates people to buy less polluting cars, while penalizing the most polluting. The system – at no cost to citizens and state – redistribute the resources between those who consume more CO2 than others. Would you agree at the introduction of a similar system in Italy and why?
Let’s start from the concept that personally I am totally against any form of incentive, since I believe that incentives do not favor the development but are I likely to create strong structural distortions and imbalances which then must be balanced in somehow.
Given the above, the increase of taxation in the car should not be considered as positive with respect to alternative taxation on the citizens?
Regarding our business I would say that I disagree with this approach, while for the country, I’m not sure I should be able to judge the best tax system in macro-economic key.
Do you know ZipCar? What do you think about Car Sharing?
Obviously I know the car sharing, but from a commercial standpoint, considering that at present Mazda doesn’t offer micro or mini car, I think it is a marginal channel. It is not therefore in our priorities.
(Translated by Raffaele Vincenti)