Visteon in Japan: Perspectives on the Future

By Yo Iikubo, Vice President, Visteon Japanese Customer Business Group

iikubo-yo-visteon-corporation-headshotThe power of innovation has become clear to me as we introduce new Visteon products and systems in Japan. It is particularly evident at our customer tech shows in Japan, where we acquaint individual automakers with our latest technology for new-generation vehicles.

The most frequent questions we address at these events are: What specifically differentiates Visteon’s products from those of competitors, i.e., what makes our products innovative? And, how does Visteon deliver new technology products that meet customer requirements for quality, cost, delivery, development and management (QCDDM)?

We spend considerable time with our Japanese OEM customers focusing on their particular interests. For example, Mazda, our largest Japanese customer and a longtime partner, values our connectivity master unit (CMU) for infotainment, as well as display technologies. Nissan and Mitsubishi are becoming more strategic customers with our instrument clusters, head-up displays (HUDs) and telematics. And we are working to expand our business relationship with Honda and Toyota around the world.

The greatest interest from Japanese customers centers on instrument clusters. Visteon leads the market in digital clusters, and our capabilities and new developments in displays and domain controllers have further attracted attention in Japan.

In fact, instrument clusters will be the biggest-selling Visteon products in Japan. We continue to invest in advancing these products and making them even more effective. At the same time, the Mazda CMU has been extremely popular, reflecting Visteon’s unique value proposition and QCDDM performance.

A bold and realistic vision

We have consistently presented a bold and realistic vision of cockpit electronics at our Japan tech shows, building on the evolution of the digital cluster. We have also emphasized the critical role clusters and displays will play in autonomous vehicles – helping occupants understand what the vehicle is seeing and doing, and monitoring drivers to ensure their readiness to retake control of the vehicle in certain situations. Because Japanese automakers produce and sell more than 80 percent of their vehicles outside Japan, they are especially sensitive to having a strong hand in the future of autonomous vehicles, the technologies that enable them, and the industry standards that will apply to them.

When considering our overall technology roadmap, Visteon must also remain aware of the features and requirements for the North America and China markets, where Japanese automakers historically have focused their product planning. Within a decade, Japan’s automotive sales to China will outnumber those to North America, so the voice of Chinese customers increasingly will help define new global requirements for Japanese automakers.

Overall, opportunity in Japan abounds. Japan has modernized roads, bridges, tunnels and railroads, and mobility within the Japanese islands is generally easy and efficient. Many structures are funded by tolls and government subsidies – some urban areas require maintenance and rural or desert areas require upgrades. Visteon can play a large role in helping car owners deal with difficult roads and bridges by offering driver information products fully connected to infrastructure updates, along with autonomous vehicles that intelligently avoid heavily congested roads and risky surfaces. Connection to real-time road information will play a significant role in improving the driving experience in Japan in the future.

Over the next two to three years at Visteon, I expect to see unique technology emerging around clusters, dimmable lenses, OLED, HUD and the SmartCore™ domain controller. We also anticipate a new infotainment product for the Mazda CMU. For Japan as a country, I hope to see Visteon’s DriveCore™ autonomous driving platform make a leap among Japanese OEMs over this same period.

Fueled by the power of innovation, I am very optimistic that the best days of Visteon in Japan are ahead of us.

Based in Yokohama, Yo Iikubo is vice president, Japan customer business group at Visteon Corporation. He is also the representative director and president at Visteon Japan Limited. Prior to joining Visteon in April 2017, Yo spent 24 years at Lear Corporation, where in his last six years he served as director of sales and business development – Japanese OEMs North America.

Yo has a BSE in materials science and engineering from Purdue University and a master of business administration from the University of Michigan – Stephen M. Ross School of Business.