Investing in Japan
Faurecia Japan KK (Olivier Fidry)
France-based Faurecia SA is the world’s top supplier of automotive seating and vehicle interiors. With major global automakers on its list of clientele, Faurecia offers solutions in four areas of business: automotive seating, interior systems, emission control technologies, and automotive exteriors. To reinforce its already-exceptional technological development capabilities, the company established an R&D base in Yokohama in 2012. We interviewed the President of Faurecia Japan KK, Mr. Olivier Fidry and he told us all about the company’s business in Japan and its future outlook.
Faurecia operates in 34 countries, employing 100,000 people including 6,000 engineers, and has a network of about 330 production and R&D sites around the world. These sites have been launched according to strategies geared at the automotive market, and for the Japanese market, an R&D facility was established in Yokohama City in 2012. To further expand its business, the company is now focusing on resolving challenges faced by the automotive industry and on developing cutting-edge technologies, based on its four core business areas of automotive seating, interior systems, emission control technologies and automotive exteriors. Its new focus of innovation includes lightweight technologies, improved in-car air quality, enhanced comfort and customization.
Expanding investment in Japan resulted in business growth
Faurecia Japan was founded in 1992. In 2001 it established a strategic alliance dedicated to a major Japanese automotive car maker. The company created a JV company with a leading Japanese automotive seat supplier to begin automotive seat development and production for its customer. Furthermore, in 2012, this time with a leading Japanese interior accessories manufacturer, the company established another joint venture to expand its business with Japanese automakers. Also in 2012, its R&D facility was launched in Yokohama City, which specializes in functional evaluation of automotive seating prototypes, designed to achieve higher safety, more sophisticated design and enhanced comfort. As a result of these efforts to reinforce its capabilities, Mr. Fidry says, “Our Japanese operations grew rapidly and achieved higher than 20% year-on-year growth in 2014, owing to our increased business with our main Japanese automaker customer.”
Faurecia’s strength: re-global
“Re-global” is one of Faurecia’s strengths, according to Mr. Fidry. Faurecia is a supplier of automotive parts, operating globally and catering to customers in the US, Europe and Asia.
Mr. Fidry says that Japanese automakers are seeking suppliers that operate globally in order to expedite their product development, commercialization, and marketing. “Faurecia is the only global supplier with technological prowess that allows support for automakers whenever they want and wherever they are, be it in Europe, North America or Asia,” he comments, confidently.
He considers Faurecia to be a long-term-oriented and stable firm making large investments in technological innovations and providing access to hundreds of patents each year. “Up to now, many of our competitors have implemented integration and relocation of their automotive departments but Faurecia has actually expanded its business based on its long-term and strategic vision. This proves the strength of Faurecia, and we are winning customers’ trust and confidence,” says Mr. Fidry, showing his pride in the company’s achievement.
Attractiveness of Japan, and advantages of having business in Japan
Mr. Fidry states that the Japanese market is attractive because there are three major automakers which rank within the global top 10. In the extremely large automotive market, these three automakers account for an impressive 30% of worldwide automobile production.
On the advantages and attractiveness of having business in Japan, Mr. Fidry says, “Japanese automakers have their engineer centers as well as styling centers for car designs in Japan, which are responsible for the design, development and manufacturing. Decisions are made in Japan and that’s why Faurecia is here.”
“Personally, I’m fond of the living environment in Japan,” he says, and on his impression of Japan, he comments, “when I first came, it was not easy to live here because of the language, but later I found that Japanese administrative organizations are very organized, and thanks to the Japanese people, access to wherever I want to go is easy. Life is comfortable here. These are wonderful features Japan offers as a place of business.”
Faurecia’s business model
In terms of products, Faurecia has been developing them in Japan for a major Japanese automaker and its French partner, which is also a leading manufacturer. Platform products developed in Japan are manufactured across the world and supplied to customers outside Japan. On this point, Mr. Fidry says, with confidence, “We have a product development site in Japan, which makes global business operations possible.”
In terms of how the company offers service, because Faurecia is a Western-style supplier, it has to modify its processes to meet the distinctive standards of products, production procedure and development process employed by Japanese clients. Mr. Fidry adds that, on the other hand, because Japanese automakers need the global operational capabilities that the Faurecia Group offers, Faurecia Japan is acting as a bridge between the Group and Japanese companies.
Faurecia’s challenge from now on is to find a way for Faurecia and Japanese automakers to share expertise and achieve growth, so that Japanese automakers can benefit from Faurecia’s global operations, without having their efficiency and working styles affected.
R&D site established in Yokohama City
In 2012, Faurecia established a product R&D base to conduct functional evaluation for automotive seating in Yokohama City. Mr. Fidry stated that the company decided to base in Yokohama because the city offers, compared to metropolitan Tokyo, a much better business environment than expected, with its lower costs and bigger office place. However, the biggest reason for choosing Yokohama was the fact that Faurecia’s joint ventures and the headquarters of its long-time partner are in the Yokohama area and the company preferred to conduct business operations in the convenient vicinity of its valued customers.
Future business expansion in Japan
In the last few years, Faurecia has achieved rapid growth in Asia. This is partly attributable to Japanese automakers’ preeminent standing in the Asian markets. In the same way as Faurecia and Western automakers collaborate to enhance their operations, the company has a strong desire to partner with Japanese automakers and grow further.
It has been about 15 years since Faurecia entered the Japanese market. As in the past, the company plans to continue investing in human and technological resources in Japan to support the business expansion of its customers. Its list of plans includes the establishment of another R&D base in Japan, as its automaker customers are based in the country. “We’d like to partner with other automakers and expand our business further,” says Mr. Fidry.
President of Faurecia Japan
Support received from JETRO
Faurecia established an R&D site in Yokohama City after obtaining information from JETRO on the Subsidy Program for Projects Promoting Asian Site Location in Japan, through which it received support to build the site in 2012. Mr. Fidry expressed his thanks to JETRO, saying “I received useful information and support from JETRO.”
(August 2015 Interview)
|1992||Faurecia Japan founded|
|2001||Faurecia Japan KK establishes Faurecia-NHK Co., Ltd. and Faurecia-NHK Kyushu Co., Ltd.|
|2005||Faurecia SA’s Japanese subsidiaries, Faurecia Japan KK and Faurecia Interior Systems, merge to create Faurecia Japan KK|
|2012||R&D site established in Yokohama City.|
Faurecia Japan KK
|Business||Design, manufacturing and sales of automotive parts|
|Parent company||Faurecia Group|
|Address||Yokohama Business Park Technical Center 3F, 134, Godo-cho, Hodogaya-ku, Yokohama 240-0005, Japan|
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