In October 2021, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. reorganized its motorcycle and engine business in order to launch a new company, Kawasaki Motors, Ltd. The following interview with the President of the new company, Mr. Hiroshi Ito, will cover the background leading up to the launch and the business fields Kawasaki Motors plans to focus on. It will also discuss the kind of company Kawasaki Motors aspires to be in its position as the only business-to-consumer business in the Kawasaki Group, as it leads the brand in the global arena.
Born in Mie Prefecture, Japan. Joined Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. in 1985. After serving as the President of Kawasaki Motores do Brasil Ltda. under the Motorcycle & Engine Company, as General Manager of the Corporate Planning Division, and other posts, Mr. Ito was appointed a Managing Executive Officer (President of the Motorcycle & Engine Company) in April 2021. In October 2021, he became President of Kawasaki Motors, Ltd.
The Launch of Kawasaki Motors, Ltd. on October 1, 2021
Interviewer: Please tell us the background which led to the reorganization of Kawasaki’s Motorcycle & Engine Company, through which it became the independent entity, Kawasaki Motors, Ltd.
As explained by President Yasuhiko Hashimoto in November of last year, we are entering into a once-in-a-century industrial revolution, with the emphasis on CASE* mobility being the most prominent. The new company was formed to accommodate these changes, by establishing an autonomous business structure that achieves greater operational agility, a stronger brand, and sustainable growth.
Spinning off the motorcycle and engine business — the only business-to-consumer business of the Kawasaki Group — was the shared desire of many people involved in Kawasaki’s two-wheeler and general-purpose engine businesses.
*An acronym coined to describe the future of mobility, standing for Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric.
Company Mission: “Let the good times roll”
Interviewer: We understand that Kawasaki Motors has created its brand mission statement. What aspirations does it represent?
When we founded the new company, we chose the brand mission statement: “Let the good times roll.” It is an advertising tagline we have been using ever since we entered the U.S. market. It was considered revolutionary at that time, because unlike other taglines that boast about maximum output or other notable specifications, ours boasted of a lifestyle made more enjoyable by driving a two-wheeler.
When we selected this tagline, we also defined its meaning as “Working for the happiness and joy of all those whose lives Kawasaki touches.” The new company is committed to pursuing all of its potential and tackling all kinds of challenges in order to enhance the joy and happiness of all stakeholders, which include customers, dealers, business partners, shareholders, governments, public entities, and our employees.
The Three Focal Fields of Kawasaki Motors
Interviewer: Please share about the fields which Kawasaki Motors will be focusing on and your strategies in that regard?
In order to speed up the sustainable growth of our motorcycle and engine businesses, and thereby raise corporate value and strengthen the brand, Kawasaki Motors will be focusing on the following three fields:
Achieving carbon neutrality
In addition to developing battery electric vehicles (BEV), we will be driving forward our projects to create hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and the use of carbon-neutral fuels, such as hydrogen.
To be more specific, we aim to introduce by 2025 more than 10 electric motorcycles and five electric off-road four-wheelers.
Accommodating rapidly growing demand for off-road four-wheelers
Significant management resources will be allocated to producing off-road four-wheelers, the demand for which is growing rapidly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have already secured 30 billion yen to be used over the next five years to improve existing production facilities and add new facilities at our plants in the U.S. and Mexico.
Another initiative in the U.S. involves building a second North American plant for general-purpose gasoline engines in Boonville, Missouri, scheduled to be launched in 2022, in order to strengthen our turf business.
Melding tradition with innovation
While continuing with the release of new models of traditional motorcycles such as the MEGURO and the Z900RS, we also plan to develop new models with innovative technologies to achieve carbon neutrality and advanced driving safety.
Collaboration with Other Kawasaki Group Members
In addition to carrying out its own initiatives as a motorcycle manufacturer, Kawasaki Motors will continue to work collaboratively with other members of the Kawasaki Group. One such example is a delivery robot which is being developed by combining KHI’s robotics technologies and Kawasaki Motors’ expertise in achieving excellent runnability in four-wheeled utility vehicles. We plan to leverage our vehicle body technology and engine development know-how to help elevate the Group’s overall corporate value.
Achieving a “Good times company”
Interviewer: What are your thoughts on how Kawasaki Motors should evolve?
Kawasaki Motors is an amalgam of people enthusiastic about motorcycles, off-road four-wheelers, personal watercraft, and engines. It is also a global company with multinational employees who work without borders and make no distinction between men and women.
Another feature of the company is its people-friendly mindset, which was our perspective even before the reorganization. When we first started as a sales company in the U.S. market, our employee-centric management was rare in the U.S., and we were called, “a People’s Company.” We plan to build our new company on this great tradition in order to realize a “Good times company” that grows sustainably by focusing on the happiness of all stakeholders.