Kawashima president of Ichikoh: “You will see fantastic LED products at the end of the next year.”
Driving Vision News: Please introduce yourself, and tell us a little about your education and your professional experience.
Kazuo Kawashima: I am a mechanical engineer of Osaka University and I have a master degree from Tsukuba University in Kanto area at 100km at the north of Tokyo.
I started at Nissan R&D in 1981 to do heating tests on engine systems before being transferred in 1993 to body assembly section as manager. Nissan at this time never transferred R&D people to production.
I then was transferred to Mexico to take care of quality at transmission and assembly Mexico plant.
In 2001, I came back to Japan in a quality special project to select the best suppliers following the decision of Carlos Ghosn to define a new supplier strategy
DVN: And one year later, you arrived at Valeo. Could you summarize your best result at Valeo?
K.K.: I was during 6 years Director of Quality at Valeo.
Some data I am proud about.
In 2002, 185ppm customer lines return.
In 2007, 10ppm customer lines return.
This results are obtained from a continuously progress in all the 11 branches of Valeo.
In 2006 and 2007, Valeo won the Superior Quality award for Toyota Europe and last in 2008, Toyota invited Valeo to their global Quality Superior day to share their experience with Toyota management.
DVN: You are since last year the President of Ichikoh. Could you present your company, sales, people?
K.K.: Ichikoh have 12 plants in the world.
6 in Japan, 2 in China and 1 in US, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
We are 3,500 people for sales of $1.1b.
We produce lighting and mirror systems for our Japanese customers Toyota (42% of our sales), Nissan (24%), Subaru (10%) and others (24%).
Our share holders are Valeo (32%), Toyota (10%), Japanese banks and public.
DVN: What about your strategy?
K.K.: Our strategy is “Growth of people” from 4 directions:
– Super Quality, 0 defect in Ichikoh lines and suppliers lines
– Asia strategy, right footprint in Japan, China, India, Indonesia
– Competitive cost with the Alliance Ichikoh-Valeo-Valeo Sylvania
– Advanced technology with the 3 levers, Technical Development Plan, Engineering Development Plan and Personal Development Plan.
We also have a method which is the 7 axes, 5 Valeo axes + sales + financial results.
Kawashima president of Ichikoh drawing strategy on the paper
DVN: You have worked in Europe and Japan. What is in your opinion, the main difference between working with a Japanese customer and a European customer?
K.K.: There is no difference between Japanese car makers and European car makers. There are differences between one car maker and another car maker. Each company has its history, culture and organization. Difference is bigger between VW and BMW than between any European car maker and any Japanese car maker.
In the opposite, the car makers have a common point: they want to speak in their language with suppliers speaking their language.
DVN: How do you explain the huge take rate on Xenon in Japan comparing with Europe and North America?
K.K.: Japanese people like the brightness.
In Japanese home, people search to have much light at the opposite of European people who like darkness, quietness with music.
In the city, in sunshine, the Japanese do not use black glasses except for fashion.
It is the same in night drive. Japanese like brightness of the light and they want to use Xenon with their much better brightness.
DVN: Koito was the first in the world to start production of LED with Lexus. Stanley follow with the Mitsubishi iMiEV. Where is Ichikoh on LED application projects to car makers?
K.K.: We were sleeping and we now awaked. You will see fantastic products at the end of the next year. Progress will be mainly on consumption reduction because the needs of car makers are today in this way.
DVN: Do you think it will be possible with LED to have better performance than Xenon at lower cost in the next 5 years?
K.K.: Yes! Between 2013 and 2015, we will have LED headlamps with better performance at lower cost.
DVN: Thank you! Good luck to you and Ichikoh.
K.K.: A pleasure to speak with you.