Honda engineer Yasunari Seki was eating Chinese food with colleagues in Torrance, Calif., in January 2006 when he got a phone call from Japan. His superiors wanted him to be chief engineer of the redesigned Insight hybrid. He spoke about that day with Asia Editor Hans Greimel.
It was in the United States while I was taking a business trip. I was there to attend the Detroit motor show because we had a plan to spread clean diesel technology in America. And then I went to our offices in Torrance, Calif., to make a report on that.
I was having dinner with co-workers when I got a phone call from Japan. They said they sent a fax to my home telling me to attend a meeting immediately the next day after my return to Japan. This was to be the kickoff meeting for the Insight.
After the phone call, I couldn't eat a bite.
At the meeting in Japan, we already had some basic plans for development. In the morning I was told what was being planned. And in the afternoon, I had to pretend like I'd been working on it for six months or a year, and then communicate the plans to the team members.