Between electric automobiles, self-driving technology, and the emergence of new segments at all auto shows, the automobile business is likely to evolve more in the coming five years than it did in the past 50 years. Japanese giants such as Honda and Toyota, of course, will not allow themselves to be out of the game. The market is flooded with mid-, small, and large-sized vehicles made by the two most popular brands. They stand out from their rivals by continuously enhancing their collection of models.
Enter Mazda. It’s a smaller business and has a unique approach to capturing customers’ attention: “The company is passionate about distinguishing itself through beautiful design and unique technology,” Jeff Guyton, President of Mazda North America, tells Entrepreneur. “We aren’t trying to build cars for everyone. Currently, we sell about 2 percent of the world’s new cars, and we’d be delighted with 3 percent.”
Enjoying the thrill of driving
Mazda has always made efforts to differentiate itself from its competitors, and the highly efficient motor they invented in the 60s springs to mind. And the ability to make the pivot is part of the DNA of the company. “Mazda is kind of an auto industry rebel,” Guyton says. “The first step can really be traced back to Mazda’s independence after WWII. At that time, Hiroshima was rebuilding itself and the Japanese government encouraged several car companies to merge for survival. Tsuneji Matsuda, the son of the founder and president of the company at that time, however, was determined to forge another path.”
The future of cars is modernized design, advanced technology, and an emphasis on luxury. We test-drove the brand’s new Mazda3 for the year 2019 Mazda3 in the spring and were impressed. The elegant outside, the skyactiv-G-based engine, and the intelligent interior design were enough to keep us enthralled on the road. We were equally impressed with their corporate ethos, their method of conducting business, and the direction they’re heading. “As an organization, Mazda loves cars, and we are a fan of driving. We picked our latest tagline for America. U.S. for a reason. “Feel alive” is a tagline that has multiple meanings however one is definitely about the joyous feeling that drivers feel when driving the Mazda,” Guyton tells us.
While the company has offices on many continents, it believes in an atmosphere of unity. “I frequently tell our employees about my favorite cartoon from The New Yorker,” Guyton. Guyton. “The cartoon features two people on each end of the vessel. A group are trying hard to get water out of the boat. At the other end, a passenger tells another, something like “I’m sure that the hole is now at their bottom.” We aim for being One Mazda, with everyone realizing that we’re all on the same side. When an organisation comes being pressured it is easy for members to be critical of one another. In Japanese tradition, we are focused on resolving the issue and not assigning blame. This helps us be more cohesive as a unit.”
“We exist in a competitive industry, but we can’t just play the same game that others do,” Guyton acknowledges. “A couple of decades ago we invented”a phrase that reads “Challenge the status quo to improve.’ This is how it works: the traditional wisdom says that an automobile that has 300 horsepower is more efficient than one that has 250 horsepower. Straightforward, right? However, if we construct the car that has 250 horsepower to be lighter it could be much more efficient. It will also likely handle better and requires less fuel.”
To make his point clear, Guyton offers a piece of advice for entrepreneurs through Maya Angelou, who passed away in the past. Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you’ve done, and people will forget what you did. However, the people won’t forget the way they felt.’ So, the first order in business should be to identify the emotions you want your customers to feel when they experience your service, brand, or product. For Mazda, I’ve got an expansive definition for “customers,’ which includes end-users, dealers, employees, shareholders, vendors … basically, anyone who experiences our brand. From there, you can determine the company’s leadership behaviors, processes, and initiatives, which are designed to create those emotions. I wish someone had told me when I got my MBA in 1991!”