After studying mechanical engineering at Kyoto University, Shuiti Goto joined Toyota in 1969. Later, in 1997, he was appointed Director at Koito Manufacturing Co., Ltd., where he now is Executive Vice President as well as Chief Director of Technology and Chief Director of Accounting.
DVN: Koito is the automotive lighting leader in Asia. What about America and how do you work with North American Lighting?
S.G.: At present, NAL is the largest lamp manufacturer in North America, having 19% of the market share in that region. Since 1983, it has been supplying lamps to major North American automobile manufacturers. It started as a joint venture corporation, but now it’s 100% subsidiary of Koito Manufacturing and it has a technical center and four plants in the United States.
As regards product development, while Koito carries out development of the advanced technologies such as the AFS and LED headlamp, NAL takes charge once the technology is transferred to NAL. Comprehensive manufacturing from product development through volume production is possible at NAL.
Currently, about 80% of the NAL products are supplied to the local plants of Japanese car manufacturers and the remaining 20% are supplied to North American car manufacturers. We intend to increase the percentage of the supply to the North American manufacturers.
DVN: Europe is a great potential market for Koito. How would you formulate Koito ambitions for Europe after your first experiences?
S.G.: Unfortunately, Koito’s share in the European market is small. We consider the European lamp manufacturers as strong competitors, as they have a long history and are rooted in tradition of the automotive culture.
In contrast, Koito’s history in Europe is short. Also, because European car manufacturers’ development methods, views on required quality, etc. differ from those of the Japanese, we were not sure of how we should address these differences at first. However, as our development progressed, we gradually learned to deal with those European manufacturers.