"All of our products are really for at least two continents," he says. The MPV is focused primarily on the North American and Japanese markets, while the Mazda2, known as the Demio in Japan, is sold only in Europe and Asia. The Miata, or the Roadster in Japan, and Mazda6, known as the Atenza, are among the few Mazda products that are truly global cars.
When Callum arrived at Mazda, the new RX-8 was close enough to production that he had little influence on its styling. The first models that are likely to show his influence are the next-generation Miata, and a replacement for the Capella, known as the 626 outside Japan.
The differences among markets are apparent in how people literally look at cars. In Japan, Callum quickly realized, "They look at exteriors in a different way. They stand closer to the car and look at the details more. They look at the stance and proportions less." (See story, Page 26D.)
Japanese cars, Callum contends, tend to have "busier surface treatments."
The same holds true for interiors. "Again, depending on the customer, it's assessed in a different way," he says.
The closer attention to details and surface treatments has led Japanese carmakers, he believes, to pay far more attention to interior materials than, say, American carmakers.
"Compared to the United States, the quality, choice and innovation in materials is quite good. The Japanese use materials in a slightly more adventurous way," he says. Compared to "a VW or Chevy, there's a distinct advanced look" in a Japanese car's plastics, fabrics and grain finishes.
Take the latter. "Traditionally, we try to make plastics look like leather," Callum notes. "That's a very cynical approach. People know what's leather and what's plastic."
Under the prodding of Japanese interior designers, suppliers now know that the traditional animal grains are not the only look possible but that other grainlike finishes are desired.
"They're coming up with new ideas," Callum says. To cite an example, he praises the new RX-8's "interesting play between gloss and matte finishes." The Demio, or Mazda2, also uses a mix of grains to break up the instrument panel.
The differences go well beyond how people look at a car, though. The differences in how people use a car are far more critical in altering what features or styling touches are seen as distinctive and noteworthy in different markets. Take the interior.