Eiji Iwakuni spoke last week with Asia Editor James B. Treece in Tokyo. Here are edited excerpts:
What are your top priorities?
To tackle distribution costs, which are now 40 percent of a vehicle's retail price, and to shape the dealer network for the 21st century. Only strong dealers will survive. My task is to develop a network of such strong dealers. Sales volume will naturally follow.
Do you have the authority to refuse vehicles Ford might want to sell here?
The courage to say no will save Ford Japan in the future. And I believe the head office is willing to accept my no.
Are there any vehicles from Ford that you want to say yes to?
All are of only average level, so there aren't any that I'm eager to say 'Yes!, Yes!, Yes!' to. But Ford has very good brand equity. From my childhood, I adored Mustangs, and I regret that Ford sells only 300 to 500 currently. So I'm thinking of tactics to persuade Ford headquarters to implement model changes to adapt those cars for Japan. The (new) Lincoln LS6/LS8 also needs a little adjustment for Japan. I want to sell 5,000 of that car.