Launch of a New Management Structure and Suzuki’s Strengths
Suzuki celebrated its 100th anniversary in March 2020. As we embarked on our next 100 years, we launched a new management structure to start up a “New Suzuki” with the aim of contributing to a sustainable society. Even with the new management team, my personal belief is that Suzuki’s mission is to “continue to be an indispensable presence by staying closely attuned to people’s lives and providing mobility for local transportation.”
Suzuki’s extensive lineup of automobiles, motorcycles, outboard motors, and electro senior vehicles serves as a strength that was built up under the extended leadership of our former chairman. Furthermore, in line with the basic policy of “Sho-Sho-Kei-Tan-Bi” (an abbreviation for Japanese meaning “smaller,” “fewer,” “lighter,” “shorter,” and “neater”), Suzuki has continuously advanced these products at affordable prices. This product lineup is a strength that enables us to realize the recent watchwords of “personal mobility rather than automobiles” and “supporting the last mile.”
Our vision for realizing Suzuki’s mission is to “become a life infrastructure company that solves mobility issues encountered by numerous people each day, and that energizes many people and revitalizes the economy.” In other words, I believe that to fully deploy Suzuki’s strengths throughout society, we must make proposals with a holistic view of the entire environment surrounding our products. This includes not only the actual products but also related infrastructure and the structures that will be used with our products. To respond to the need for realizing the ideal form of mobility that supports people’s lives in the future, we aim to create new value matched to the needs of society by integrating all our businesses, including electro senior vehicles. These efforts will include thinking of automobiles as a form of personal mobility that incorporates various concepts related to motorcycles instead of advancing motorcycle and automobile technologies separately as we further pursue the true meaning of Sho (smaller) in “Sho-Sho-Kei-Tan-Bi,” which is Suzuki’s strength.
Under the new management structure, Suzuki launched the New Mobility Service Division and the EV Operations Division that eliminate barriers between motorcycles and automobiles while revising its internal information sharing system and establishing an environment for facilitating flexible ideas and efficient cooperation. Recognizing the importance of encouraging all officers and employees to promote internal communication and incorporate new perspectives and different ways of thinking, we will work as one team in addressing various issues while mutually listening to each other’s opinions.
Environment Surrounding Automobiles and Suzuki’s Response to CASE Technology
The automobile industry is currently in the midst of accelerating technological innovations typified by CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services, Electric) as the industry moves toward the next generation. By advancing technologies in these four areas, each manufacturer is steering toward a mobility service business.
To speed up its response to CASE under these circumstances, Suzuki newly established the aforementioned New Mobility Service Division in October 2020 and the EV Operations Division in July 2021.
In addition, in July 2021 Suzuki announced that together with Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. it will participate in the Commercial Japan Partnership (CJP), a commercial vehicles project launched by Toyota Motor Corporation, Hino Motors Limited, and Isuzu Motors Limited in April 2020.
Minivehicles now account for around 31 million of the approximately 78 million vehicles on the road in Japan, and are instrumental in people’s daily lives, especially in rural areas. Among these, mini-commercial vehicles play a key role in supporting last-mile logistics. The addition of Suzuki and Daihatsu to CJP will enable improvements in the efficiency of integrated logistics, from trucks to mini-commercial vehicles.
New Mid-Term Management Plan
In February 2021, Suzuki formulated a new Mid-Term Management Plan (April 2021 to March 2026) “Sho-Sho-Kei-Tan-Bi”. Under this plan, we aim to return to our origins of “focusing on the customer” inherited from our founder and provide valuable products and services by pursuing the concept of “smaller, fewer, lighter, shorter and neater.”
In this management plan, Suzuki has clearly articulated its initiatives amid the global trend toward carbon neutrality and will prioritize the three key issues of “CO2 emissions in use,” “CO2 emissions from production,” and “quality assurance.” We regard the five years of this plan as a period for creating a foundation for building on our electrification technologies in anticipation of 2030 and will proactively promote various technological developments to attain this goal.
There are even some automakers around the world that are setting the ambitious goal of converting all models to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030. However, most of Suzuki’s customers are ordinary consumers and the existence of our business necessitates us to stay closely attuned to their needs. For precisely this reason, instead of rushing too far ahead and focusing solely on advancing technologies, we must first consider what kinds of vehicles our customers will actually need and use in the coming years. In collaboration with the national and local governments, we wish to move forward by giving consideration to to what is needed in society for electrified vehicles to be prevalent, such as charging stations and other infrastructure, and by contemplating what must be done to small vehicles.
In addition, we need to place emphasis on quality more than ever before to address the sophistication of automobile technologies accompanying electrification and software development. We aim to create valuable products that offer superb quality and affordability from the customer’s perspective. At the same time, while heeding the lessons learned from past recalls, we will redouble efforts toward the prompt investigations of causes of product defects and implementation of countermeasures, strive for product manufacturing with less variants, and expand traceability management to prevent the occurrence of quality issues, enable early detection of problems, and avert the outflow of defective products.
Toward Solving Social Issues
There is an urgent need to resolve globally common social issues such as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To date, Suzuki has contributed to the development and spread of environment-friendly small cars and the creation of jobs in emerging countries. Suzuki will continue to consider what it can do for and what is needed by society as it works toward solving social issues while earning profits through business activities that leverage its strengths.
On the environmental front, Suzuki formulated Environmental Vision 2050. Under this vision, we have set challenging goals with an eye toward 2050 based on four themes of “mitigation of climate change,” which we place particular focus on, “air conservation,” “water resource conservation,” and “resource circulation.” Through manufacturing, Suzuki is making efforts to not only reduce its carbon footprint, but also to recycle resources and reduce the burden on the water environment. In 2021, Suzuki also commenced various innovative initiatives through its businesses, such as introducing the device for outboard motors to collect marine microplastics.
Having people capable of generating ideas for and actively working on such initiatives will become increasingly crucial. It is often said that “companies are made up of people.” However, without an environment in which employees can thrive, such imaginative ideas will never be born. For this reason, it is important for all employees to share information and move into action. As such, we are working to create open workplaces with active communication that enable easy exchanges of opinions and consultations. Labor-management strife that once occurred in India was solved by mutually sharing information and ideas through persistent communication, and unity there has since been strengthened.
Communication is also important from the perspective of compliance. Regarding the case of improper conduct during final vehicle inspections, as our efforts were insufficient for confirming what was occurring and identifying the problems at inspection sites, we failed to make needed improvements. We are now pushing ahead with various improvements by automating inspections to reduce workloads and taking other measures so that inspectors can feel a sense of reassurance and devote themselves to their work in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and rules.
Turning to corporate governance, I believe that diversity in the composition of the Board of Directors is also important. For example, advice from outside directors with knowledge that differs from that of someone inside Suzuki serves as a good stimulus while repeated discussions often yield positive results. One person alone cannot manage a company so Team Suzuki must work as one. Here, as well, communication among a variety of people is the key.
I should point out that the importance of diversity is not limited to the Board of Directors. For a company on the scale of Suzuki, with its extensive range of customers and stakeholders, respecting and incorporating diverse opinions and ideas is paramount. We will also strive to create work environments in which human resources from extensive backgrounds can flourish in the most suitable jobs and demonstrate their abilities regardless of gender, nationality, age, and disabilities.
Suzuki will continue to hold dialogue after properly communicating to stakeholders how we plan to realize our management philosophy while making the most of our strengths as well as the ways we will contribute to a sustainable society. I believe that fulfilling this mission is crucial.
Each officer and employee will once again return to the mission statement of “Develop products of superior value by focusing on the customer” with a strong awareness of creating environment-friendly products demanded by customers. At the same time, we will also pursue the concept of “Sho-Sho-Kei-Tan-Bi” in every area to contribute to the realization of sustainable management and a sustainable society.