The next stop on my Grand Tour of the Japanese Automotive Plants: Suzuki! On December 3, 2017, I visited their location in Hamamatsu. To be completely honest, I did not see the inside of their plants, but the excellent Suzuki Plaza still gave a lot of insight into their production system.
Mazda is the seventeenth-largest car maker in the world with around 1.5 million cars produced in 2016. Most of them were produced in Japan. It is also the only car maker that mass-produced cars using a rotary engine. As part of my Grand Tour of Japanese Automotive Plants, I visited their main Hiroshima plant in January 2018 (one of three Mazda plants in Japan). Here’s what I found:
Mitsubishi Motors is the oldest of the major car companies in Japan, established 1917. It is also one of the smaller ones in Japan, with only slightly more than 1 million vehicles produced in 2016. In January 2018, I had the chance to visit their Okazaki plant near Nagoya. I also visited the Mitsubishi Fuso plant in Kawasaki and one of its suppliers, although that is technically another company. Let me give you the gist of the Mitsubishi Motors Plant Okazaki.
Honda is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world with around 17 million motorcycles sold in 2017 (compared to number 2 Yamaha with around 5.2 million, 2015 figures). In January 2018 I had a chance to visit their Honda Kumamoto plant. This plant gave me a much better and very different impression than the Honda Sayama automotive plant.
Honda is the seventh-largest car maker in the world (in 2016). It is the largest maker of motor bikes and internal combustion engines overall. During my Grand Tour of Japanese Automotive, I was able to visit two of their plants: Sayama, where they produce cars, and Kumamoto, where they produce motor bikes and generators. These two plants are very different from each other. Let me give you what I found.
Nissan by itself would be the sixth-largest car maker (5.5 million vehicles in 2016), although it is now a part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, which was the largest car maker in 2017. It is also the world’s largest producer of electric vehicles.
As part of my grand tour of Japanese automotive plants, I visited their Yokohama and Iwaki plants, which both make engines. In my view, the manufacturing performance of Nissan is comparable to that of Toyota, making it also one of the most efficient car makers worldwide. Let me show you what I found.
This was extremely insightful, and I learned a lot about the differences between the Japanese car makers. Let me give you an overview and some details on Toyota plants before firing off a series of blog posts on the different Japanese automotive companies.
Toyota is one of the the most visionary car makers with respect to its manufacturing. They continuously and radically evolve and update their production system. Recently I learned about their new “flexible assembly line.” Now, you’ve probably heard about Toyota’s flexible assembly lines producing multiple products on the same line. That is old hat; they’ve done that for thirty years. Their new flexible assembly line involves a completely different aspect of flexibility, with which Toyota surprised me (again). Let me show you …