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  • 【マツダ100年 車づくりと地域】RE存続「挑戦する魂に触れ自信」 元社長のフィールズ氏に聞く(2020年01月02日掲載)

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【マツダ100年 車づくりと地域】RE存続「挑戦する魂に触れ自信」 元社長のフィールズ氏に聞く(2020年01月02日掲載)

2020/1/20 19:28

Ryutaro Inoue, Staff Writer

Mark Fields, 58, former president of Mazda Motor Corporation and former chief executive officer(CEO) of Ford Motor Company, U.S.A., agreed to be interviewed by Chugoku Shimbun in the United States. This is his first interview with Japanese media since he left Ford. Although the idea of discontinuing the development of rotary engines(RE) surfaced when Mazda became a Ford affiliated company, he decided to continue the project because he was “convinced by Mazda’s challenging spirit.”

There was a time when some in Ford’s management who were taking the lead in the management reconstruction of Mazda, expressed negative views on continuing the development of RE vehicles because of poor sales. When Mr. Fields arrived at Mazda in 1998 as an adviser, he too regarded it as a problem due to fuel―inefficiency and other issues, and in a meeting informed Mazda that “if we can’t solve the problems, we can’t produce it.”

RE is a symbolic technology for Mazda, mass―produced throughout the world only by Mazda. Mazda’s managing director and his team of managers brought pieces of the engine into Mr. Fields’ office and passionately explained each one of the issues and how they were going to address them. Reflecting on this moment he commented, “At that time, I knew that the challenging spirit that they are going to overcome those issues.” 

A new RE was developed while Mr. Fields was the president of Mazda, and it was mounted on the RX―8, launched in 2003. Compared to older models, the new high―powered RE has an improved fuel―efficiency of 20 percent, and a reduced weight of 24 percent. Mr. Fields considered the RE “very critical” to the revitalization of Mazda at that time, and explained the RX―8 was “the pride of Mazda engineers.”

He highly values current Mazda products. “I think Mazda has the most elegant designs among other Japanese car manufacturers. The other thing continues to be differentiate is the ride and handling, or the fun to drive aspects of every one of their vehicles.” He said this uniqueness is very important for Mazda, given that it is a smaller scale car manufacturer, and he is glad to see them continuing to respect that aspect.

As for the future of the industry, he expects “electric vehicles would be the majority of the vehicle, but maybe not at the pace that people think due to cost and infrastructure issues.” He then reflected the recognition of the importance of tie―ups and relationships with other companies, saying, “It’s going to be a very big challenge for Mazda when you look at the new skills and resources needed in the auto industry.” Predicting that fully autonomous vehicles will become popular primarily in urban areas, he believes “there are still going to be many kinds of non―fully autonomous vehicles that consumers are going to be driving. The key is whether Mazda has vehicles that meet customer requirements and are fun to drive to provide differentiation.” He sent words of cheers to Mazda.

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