Jul. 13, 2016


Kazutaka Nambu

Thailand

Kazutaka Nambu

President, Nissan Motor (Thailand)

“We want Nissan to help Thailand attain its goals in terms of its vision for producing and developing next generation cars.”

BIO

Prior to becoming President of Nissan Motors (Thailand), Kazutaka Nambu served as vice president of sales and marketing in Africa, the Middle East, and India at Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. since October 2014. Nambu was also the managing director of Nissan Motor Egypt

What are some of Nissan's latest achievements in the Thai market?

We produce cars for the domestic market as well as the export market. Our production is now around 150,000 units annually. About 30% of production in Thailand is for domestic use and the rest is intended for export. On the retail side, we just launched the X-TRAIL Hybrid last year, and it has been a huge success considering our market share in the SUV segment shot up from 2% to over 30% after launching this model. We produce that model only in Thailand and Japan. So that is a major achievement for us in the domestic market. From a product point of view, we also launched NISMO, which is more than a product—it is a brand renowned above all in the racing field. Thailand is the sixth market NISMO has entered because we know that Thais love sports cars and that it would do well here. In terms of our retail network, we opened 10 new dealerships, mainly to increase our after-sales network. We now cover all 77 provinces in Thailand. It is the first time we have covered the entire country, and we can service a Nissan car anywhere in Thailand. We have also invested in more training for our service staff, partners, and dealers.

What impact have these domestic achievements had on the company's export operations?

In terms of exports, our greatest achievement was in 2014, when we opened our second plant. Nissan has over 50 years of production history in Thailand, but we only ever had one plant. The second plant opened in 2014, and it is dedicated solely to pick-ups. Production has started, and we have already started exporting to ASEAN countries and Australia in 2015. Again, 30% of the production from that second plant is for the domestic market, with the remaining 70% going to export. Nissan is also very famous in the Eco car segment for eco-friendly cars. In this category, Nissan has been the pioneer, launching the first brand in this segment after the Thai government launched the program. We have already produced 500,000 units in accumulated production sales, for both export and the domestic market. We are even exporting this brand to Japan, 100% Thailand produced. Geographically, Thailand is well positioned for exporting to ASEAN or the Middle East. Labor costs are reasonable while also well skilled and it has a great supply chain, one of the best in the region.

Can you tell us more about the future car project that the Thai government is working on?

Thailand already is a production hub with a good production base. However, the government is concerned that if Thailand only focuses on being a production hub, there will be a lot of countries to compete with, regional countries with certain competitive advantages like cheaper labor. The government is concerned with going from being a production base to becoming a next-generation automotive production center with a strong R&D base. We agree with its vision, and want to help it achieve this. We have already established an R&D facility to test and develop vehicles in Thailand, and recently launched in April with Thai officials also invited to the launch. We have testing facilities and courses around our plants as well, where we test things like safety, the performance of new models, and emissions. We want Nissan to help Thailand attain its goals in terms of its vision for producing and developing next generation cars. The Thai government is particularly focusing on eco-friendly cars, which is why we have invested in Eco cars as well. They are economic, environmentally friendly, and safe. The government is also focusing on hybrids, which we are too, and the launch of the X-TRAIL Hybrid is part of that vision. The next project for the Thai government is an electric-powered vehicle. We have been discussing this project with the Thai government, but it is still early days. Nissan is leader globally in electric vehicles in terms of market share. So we have a great deal we can bring to this project in Thailand, and we have an advantage in terms of what we can bring to the table in terms of developing and marketing a pure batter-operated electric vehicle in Thailand. If Thailand goes ahead with this electric vehicle project, we told the government we need two things: an incentive, because it is expensive; and an infrastructure for charging stations. If those are in place and there is good demand, we would go ahead with production. Electric cars are the future of the automotive industry and things are progressing very rapidly there in terms of battery technologies, mileage, and costs.

What are your expectations for 2016, following the new releases and the motor show?

Our total investment volume this year is about the same as 2015. The Thai government is trying to stimulate the economy on a macro level, but usually those macro incentives and stimuli usually reflect on automotive sales much later. We expect sales to pick up accordingly no earlier than in the second half of 2016. Overall, we expect from next year that the domestic market will lead the way for us. In terms of exports, we look at the global economic picture, which is hard to predict right now. If the global economy picks up, then things will be more positive on that front as well.

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