TOKYO - The new president of Ford Motor Co. (Japan) Ltd. has completely changed Ford's strategy.
For seven years, former President Konen Suzuki said, a lack of dealers prevented Ford from selling more cars.
Ford took a hard-line stance in automotive talks on the issue of access to dealers in Japan.
The new president says he needs product, not dealers.
Eiji Iwakuni, a 55-year-old former Honda Motor Co. executive, took over 1 April.
'You no longer need so many dealers all over Japan,' he said in an interview.
The key to Ford's success will be vehicles that meet the needs of Japanese consumers.
He expects good sales for the Ford Mustang and just-unveiled 2000 Lincoln LS6/LS8, but he says he will refuse some American models.
'The courage to say no will save Ford Japan in the future,' he said. 'And I believe the head office is willing to accept my no.'
He said his appointment to the job, despite his inability to speak English, is proof of Ford's commitment to the Japanese market.
'That shows that they put less weight on communications ability than on actual business operations. They recognize the need for them to listen to customers, instead of internal company people.'