In this new interview with a Japanese publication, Nissan President and CEO Uchida San talks about the 2023 Z Coupe Sports Car
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Mr. Uchida : It was a manual for Gunmetal's twin turbo 2by2.

── 2by2 is a T-bar roof?

Mr. Uchida : That's right. A senior from the previous company (trading company) said that he would give it away because he was going abroad, so I took the plunge and made a loan.

──It's top grade. Wasn't it quite expensive?

Mr. Uchida : Yes. It's been about two or three years since I became a member of society. But I got a loan. However, after that, I also started working overseas. I still regret that I could only ride for about 7 months.

──Did you like Z for a long time?

Mr. Uchida : Yes. Actually, when I was in elementary school, I was addicted to the supercar manga "Circuit no Okami", and the hero of the domestic car that appeared at that time was the Fairlady Z.

──Oh! It's the Z432 driven by Okita of the Metropolitan Police Department high-speed corps, isn't it?

Mr. Uchida : That's right! I longed for that. After all it is this. I was in Egypt at that time, so I didn't get any magazines or manga ... I borrowed a motorcycle and a car magazine from an acquaintance and read it crazy.

──Oh, I see. I understand somehow.

Mr. Uchida : So, I'm proud of this, but I went to the one-shot test at the Kadoma test site (in Osaka), where the limitation of the motorcycle was lifted (large license), and I took it three times!

──Oh, that's amazing!

Mr. Uchida : That may be the pride of life. I can't brag about anything else (laughs).

──No (laughs) ... and the spokesperson also said, "It's about time to talk about Z ..." (laughs). Well, first of all, do you like Car Guy or drive a car?

Mr. Uchida : Yes. Sometimes I don't have many opportunities now, but I like driving, so I asked the public relations to rent a car, and when I came to work on Saturdays and Sundays and my work had settled down, I went around the neighborhood and enjoyed it for a while ...・ You are doing that.

──What is the car you are currently riding?

Mr. Uchida : This is the first Leaf. Originally, my wife was on board. However, if you like motorcycles, you will definitely drive the car manually.

──Ah, I see.

Mr. Uchida : After all, I liked the feeling of being attached to my body, and I always decided that the car was a manual. It's really fun to feel that I'm shifting.

──Then, you're not so interested in autonomous driving (laughs)

Mr. Uchida : No, no (laughs). I'm interested in it in a different field. In fact, having an electric car and a spoker is the ideal combination I've ever had. The long-awaited aria will come out, and I wish I could have it with the new Z.
I became an officer in 2017, but I built a house to do my best. I also designed various things myself. At that time, make the 2nd floor a living room and the 1st floor a bedroom. The reason was that I wanted to put a big window in the wall of the garage so that the car could be seen from the bedroom.

──It's amazing. that is.

Mr. Uchida : I wanted to put a beautiful car and make it visible from inside the house, so I made it very hard. Unfortunately (because my family is in China) I haven't lived for a long time (laughs). So, I had the idea that "a car must be beautiful" ... Also, I like to wash the car.

──Well, that's right! ??

Mr. Uchida : Isn't it beautiful? I'm glad. Look at the beautiful car from a slight angle. It looks beautiful especially at dusk, isn't it? That's really cool, I'm glad ... Of course, I'm happy to drive.

Memories of Fairlady Z (Z32) that I owned
──At the beginning of the announcement of the Z Prototype in September 2020, there was a pretty high-impact photo (background of the title photo), though (laughs)?

Mr. Uchida : That 's right (laughs). Is it okay for me to wear such an aloha shirt? I thought. When I said "I was on the Z", I was asked "Is there a photo?" That is the picture at that time. I always wash the car on Saturdays and Sundays. I want to ride it after cleaning it, so it's probably after washing the car.

──Is that smile a happy expression after washing the car? (Laughs) It was a treasure.

Mr. Uchida : Yes (laughs) I wanted it all the time. I was riding every Saturday and Sunday like a partner! By the way, I'm the type who can drink while looking at the car, so I wanted to make the garage glass-walled. So while drinking wine, this angle is good! I like talking to my friends.

──You don't have to ride.

Mr. Uchida : It's fun to ride, but I'm happy if it's shiny. I thought that Z at that time was also good for gunmetal. At that time, gunmetal was still rare.

── That's right. The R32 GT-R was the image of gunmetal.

Mr. Uchida : You have to remove the T-bar and put it in the back of the Z32. There is also a case. It's quite heavy and troublesome, but I always took it off when riding. I'm happy at first. Also, after all, the car is positioned as a part of me, or as an expression of myself. When you're young, you want to be cool. It's a cool car to be cool, by all means.

Whether President and CEO Uchida will buy the new Z
──I see. Then, I have no choice but to buy the next Z. There is also a nice garage.

Mr. Uchida : I will definitely buy it! I will definitely buy it! !! Z is natural. I also buy arias. I feel like buying others (laughs)

── Line up everything from A to Z (laughs)?

Mr. Uchida : I would like to do that if there is a place (laughs).

──No, but I hope you have the Aria and Z you mentioned earlier in your garage. EV SUVs and sports cars. It's nice.

Mr. Uchida : In Aria when riding with my family. Z is said to be enjoyed only by himself.

── After all Z is a manual.

Mr. Uchida : It's a manual. After all the manual cannot be removed. It's not fast because it's a manual. I just want to experience the feeling of running like this for myself.

── Did you actually get on the new Z?

Mr. Uchida : Yes. I got on both Z and Aria. Riding on the Z, "Isn't the sound a little more like this?" I said that (laughs). If you like motorcycles, you are particular about the sound. "I hope it goes up another octave!" Or something like that. Well, there are Japanese regulations.

──If you can ride it, do you have any hope for body color? I'm still not sure (at this point) if there is gunmetal.

Mr. Uchida : I'm worried. No, this is it. First of all, it is said that it is the symbol color (yellow). Because there are many favorite colors.

──Ah, then 7 colors are available.

Mr. Uchida : 7 colors (laughs). It's this color to decorate the house, and it's good to have a gunmetal for a little evening ride. Actually, I also like red. Actually, I'm worried about only the color.

──When you bought the new Z, you mentioned earlier, but your wife can't use such a manual for a sports car! Can't you say that?

Mr. Uchida : That is not said in the car. When it comes to motorcycles, it's true. I know I've been in that kind of car for a long time. In that respect, I wonder if there is any understanding. I think my wife wouldn't ride with me (laughs). (Text: Koichiro Morita, FANBOOK editorial department / Photo: Masayuki Inoue)

Part 2

What was the response to "A to Z" and the Z-prototype show?
──I would like to ask you a little management-like story. In Nissan's medium-term plan "NISSAN NEXT" announced at the end of May 2020, there was a promise of "A to Z", but I brought A starting from Aria and Z at the end. And in mid-September 2020, the Z Prototype was announced. How was the response? The fact that President Uchida spoke in his own words from the beginning of the speech has become popular among fans.

Mr. Uchida: Thank you. Everyone in the company is doing well. After all, everyone loves cars. I really like cars, and I have a strong desire to have customers understand them and provide good products. I also have the feeling that I wanted to send it out myself. In that respect, I feel that the sense of unity within the company has increased since the announcement of the Z Prototype. I wonder if there is a response.

── About 20 years ago, I think that one of the symbols of the NRP (Nissan Revival Plan), which achieved a V-shaped recovery, was the resurrection of the Z by the Z33. Did you have in mind that it was one of the trump cards to raise the flow?

Mr. Uchida: There is. After all, I want to express the uniqueness of Nissan. It could be the aria of an electric car or the Z of a sports car. We are also thinking about the GT-R. Certainly there was a tough time. But this company is amazing! Each individual's ability. I've been saying it persistently anytime, anywhere.

── That's right.

Mr. Uchida: I think it is our responsibility as a manager to properly guide the individual's abilities and draw out the power of their original potential. "Then, how do you do that? How do you show it in a product?" Is what I've been doing so hard. I want to make Nissan shine again. Nissan was shining in the past. Unfortunately, there have been many things, but from now on, Nissan will be shining again. For that reason, both Aria and Z will be released to the world. This is my strong feeling. This is Nissan's uniqueness. This is Nissan's DNA.

──I read some discourse before, but does Nissan's uniqueness mean "do something unique" or "provide something unique"?

Mr. Uchida: Yes. We want our customers to say, "I'm glad we were Nissan." "After all". I said that at the 2020 shareholders' meeting. Of course, we want our employees to be proud to work for Nissan. If this can be achieved, I'm glad I was the president. That is my motivation now. I'm really happy to hear that kind of voice. Because this company is really great.

How does Nissan view the Japanese market?
──It's a little off from Z, but how does Nissan see the Japanese market? Isn't the Japanese market less important when looking at the market size? Some people say that ...

Mr. Uchida: Nissan was born in Japan and is a home market. In order to promote innovative things, I think that if we can't do it in Japan, we can't expand overseas. In fact, the latest technologies such as ProPilot and e-POWER are introduced from the Japanese market. In addition, Serena, Days, Roox, Kicks e-POWER, and Note are all Japanese models. Aria is also on sale from Japan.

To put it a little more, I think we are designing "How do we express the brand to Japanese customers? How can we provide the corporate value of the company to our customers?" I think that it means steadily advancing innovative technologies that increase corporate value in Japan and passing on that know-how overseas.

──This is Nissan's GHQ, Global Headquarters.

Mr. Uchida: That's right. that's right.

── Naturally, will Z be made at the Tochigi factory and sent overseas? Of course, it's not just Z, but does that mean "I have no intention of neglecting the domestic market"?

Mr. Uchida: No.

── (About 6 days before this interview) Was there some news that the development of the Skyline was discontinued?

Mr. Uchida: We haven't said anything. Perhaps when looking at the business, looking at the market size, Japan is still tough. However, I think that it is only seen from the perspective of "number of units". What I want to say is how to consider providing "value" as a company.

When looking at the current situation in Japan, the question "What will happen to Japanese factories?" Is being raised from the production site. Employees are also worried.

Everyone thinks about "units" seriously, but the factory is not only about making cars, but also about making Nissan's "value" including innovative "technology". I really want this to make something that customers can say, "This is Nissan!" It sounds a little beautiful, but how do you balance that with your business?

Then, if you look back on the past, I wonder if you have been focusing on Japan as your home market. I will do my best from now on! about it. In terms of business scale, China and the United States are certainly larger.

──Well, that's a different digit, isn't it?

Mr. Uchida: For example, batteries, but even in electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries were technically strong in Japan, weren't they? But from a business perspective, it's tough. China did a very good job. Of course, there are economies of scale. However, not only there, but looking ahead to the future carbon-neutral era, we must change the structure steadily. Japan really has technology, so I think the challenge is to commercialize it.

If you look at the economic principles, it's possible that I used to look like that in the past. But that's no good. Then what is Japan? If you say Japanese craftsmanship or technology, what is it? When. If that connects to our "value" as a company, I think we have to clarify how we will do it in Japan. Nissan was born in Japan.

Electrification and decarbonization ... What will happen to the Z and GT-R in the future?
──Finally, about the future Z. The other day (January 27, 2021), Mr. Uchida issued a statement saying, "We will promote EV in the 2030s and work company-wide toward carbon neutrality" as a guideline for 2050. .. In such a trend, what should the cars such as Z and GT-R be? Is Nissan willing to leave it properly? I would like to ask you about it.

Mr. Uchida: Naturally, we have said that we have a duty as a company to this society against this climate change. From that point of view, we would like to be able to provide motorized vehicles from the early 2030s. However, we are not saying "make everything an electric vehicle," and of course, it is our duty as a company to be able to provide it, and we must do it.

However, when it comes to how Nissan provides corporate value, I will return to the previous story. At the same time, we would like to have such an exciting car from our DNA. So, with that feeling in mind, I'm working hard to see if I can produce something that will please our customers. You can only say this.

──For example, you can do it with two poles, such as EVs for mini cars and commuter-like cars that can be used on a daily basis, and sports cars with high taste such as Z and GT-R, which are being considered in the future. Do you mean to go?

Mr. Uchida: When it comes to bipolar, for example, electrification, we are EV and e-POWER. In line with that, I would like to bring a Nissan-like car as a lineup. Among them, there are Z and GT-R. While having this portfolio, I think that we will also make a balanced contribution to society as a company against climate change.

──In this book (Fairlady Z Story & Historic Vol.2), Mr. Yukawa, who was the CPS (leader of product planning) for Z33 and Z34, contributed. In that, I asked, "What will happen to Z in the future?" Then, "It would be difficult to leave it as an automobile manufacturer, but I think it would be good if 0.2% of the 1000 people bought it and made something worth it." So, "I want an EV as a commuter, but that's not all." I wonder if it's a hobby area. In a sense, it's a bad word, as if the manufacturer was close to such a customer who really wanted it, but it seems like "making a car that sells flirts is one way for automobile manufacturers to survive in the future." You said something like that. What do you think of this?

Mr. Uchida: That's right. If you look at the business to make a profit with this car alone, you will probably reach the limit. However, if we can measure how the car creates the value of the company ... No doubt Z is a brand and has a lot of fans. You might get angry if you say this, but Z is so beautiful that you can decorate it.

── That's right (laughs).

Mr. Uchida: So in that respect, it will be carbon neutral (laughs). You may be asked, "Then, is Z good?", But I'm still asking, "What value should the car be?" I think. Even if you look at antiques, even if it's not a car, isn't it exactly the case?

──The same is true for watches. The so-called functional one should have been good, and the accurate radio wave solar is the best, so why do everyone want a Breitling, a Rolex, or a high-end watch?

Mr. Uchida: Like Daytona. But after all, I want to have it, I want to own it, I want to make it a part of myself. That's why I think it would be nice to have something like that. Nissan Z may become such a brand. So I personally really want to keep it in the garage. That's why I made a visible window. See it and immerse yourself in self-satisfaction.

Then, from the perspective of climate change, you may be angry at whether you can ride it hard, but for that, I want to make it a car that I am happy to decorate. It's a value for our customers. What is the value is different for each person. Under such circumstances, Z has so many fans and so much history. I don't want to stop it.

In terms of business, it will be challenging. This is natural. But what kind of value will it be transformed into? I think we must continue to take on the challenge of changing value. For something called Z.

──I was relieved.

Mr. Uchida: But I really think so. What is the value of a car? Is it just for moving? I think that various values will come out, from now on. Cars ... For example, some young people who join our company do not have a driver's license. The values have changed. The value of the car we used to seek is changing now. For younger generations, Y generations and Z generations, it will be valuable to contribute to the environment. It's natural to change and I think it's great. So, if that happens, what you want from your car will change steadily. And I think it's okay to have various ways to ask for it. We want to continue what is required of a car called Z. (End)

After Note
About half a year has passed since this interview on June 17, 2021. Meanwhile, the first half financial results for FY2021 and the new long-term plan "Nissan Ambition 2030" were announced, and the recovery of business performance (operating income of 139.1 billion yen) and "Investing about 2 trillion yen in the next 5 years to accelerate electrification / Announced an ambitious guideline to launch 23 new electric vehicles, including 15 electric vehicles by 2030, to expand the global model mix of electric vehicles to more than 50% / to launch all-solid-state batteries in 2028. did.

In the last six months, each company's efforts toward decarbonization have been drastically expressed, including Toyota, but at the press conference, President Uchida said, "Creating and providing value." The content hasn't changed since before this interview. Perhaps the trend that "cars with internal combustion engines are no longer harmful" is widespread. However, can Nissan really achieve "creation and provision of new value"? First of all, I would like to expect while paying close attention to the response of the new Z that will appear in the spring of 2022. (Text: Koichiro Morita, FANBOOK editorial department / Photo: Masayuki Inoue)