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Old 12-25-2008, 01:24 PM   #1
Scooby Guru
Member#: 73805
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: NEPA
forward in Italian

Default Suzuki Sees A Tsunami

Osamu Suzuki has seen it all. The 78 year old patriarch was 15 when WW II ended. He has seen and successfully overcome the oil shocks of the 1970s and a number of other major business hardships during his career. Suzuki is not ready to retire. Actually, he took on another job: Two weeks ago, Suzuki’s President and Chief Operating Officer Hiroshi Tsuda asked to step down “for health reasons.” Suzuki, Chairman of Suzuki Motor Corp., decided not to replace Tsuda and took his job. Today, the Nikkei (sub) had a little chat with Osamu Suzuki. What they heard wasn’t pretty:

“We have not hit bottom yet,” says Suzuki. ”There is a time lag between what is happening with the Big Three U.S. carmakers and the impact that will have in Japan. It is as if tsunami waves are rolling toward Japanese shores. I believe a real wave will hit us around July or August next year, with car sales hitting rock bottom.” Asked, what management should do when it finds itself in a crisis, Suzuki has a simple answer:

“The No. 1 priority is to cut down in-house costs as quickly as possible.”

Then, the patriarch makes a startling assertion. Asked whether a sales recovery in the U.S. would be key to a turn-around in the auto industry, Suzuki answers:
“No. A more pressing problem is that people are losing interest in owning cars, and we have to do something about that. Young people today (in Japan) are not afraid to say that they do not have a driver’s license.”

The last fact had been mentioned several times by TTAC’s B&B: Young people aren’t car crazy anymore. In the emerging markets, they still are. There, a car is a symbol that you’ve made it, a car gives you freedom to go wherever you want. Not longer so in highly developed markets, In Manhattan, in Tokyo, in Berlin or London, a car is a liability. You don’t need the car to get the girl. In the suburbs, the car has turned from an object of desire to a nuisance you are forced to have and maintain. Then, there’s the simple fact that there aren’t enough young people, especially in Japan and Europe.

In this regard, even Suzuki’s sage wisdom comes up a little short:: “We need to reconsider ways to sell cars, like musical instrument maker Yamaha Corp did with pianos. It succeeded in stimulating children’s interest in the piano during a major sales slump by increasing the number of piano lessons across the nation.”

No amount of driving schools will stem the tsunami waves
The Nikkei »
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