An old hand is steering Honda Cars India in a new direction

Takuya Tsumura balances his passion for wildlife photography with his skill in navigating the company.

By Ketan Thakkar calendar 13 May 2023 Views icon8603 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
An old hand is steering Honda Cars India in a new direction

As the last financial year recedes into the distance, Honda Cars India is set to post its second consecutive year of profits. The buoyancy is a sign that the company, which took the hard call of shutting down its Greater Noida factory in 2020 as part of its strategy to prioritise profitability over volumes, is getting back into shape.

For 55-year-old Takuya Tsumura, a Honda Motor veteran and one of the founding members of the Indian operations, it also marks a bitter-sweet return. Tsumura is back to defining the fundamentals of the business and charting a new direction for the company in the coming decade, something he did way back in 1997 as a young executive.

Tsumura says he is happy to return to a market that brings back fond memories of establishing the Honda brand. But unlike in his previous innings, in which he had the luxury of working on a clean slate, this time around the Honda Cars India CEO and president has to lead the brand amid intense competition after a couple of mishits to break into the mainstream market.

Tsumura was deputed to India in April 2022, after Honda shut down its factory in Turkey as part of a strategy to consolidate its manufacturing footprint globally.

For Honda, Tsumura was incharge of South Asian countries, including India 
from 1997 to 2000.

With a renewed focus on profitability, Honda decided to conserve cash to reinvest into an electrified future. After restructuring the operation, Tsumura says Honda is back on the growth path.

April was a jampacked month for Tsumura and May isn’t looking any less hectic either for the avid photographer and wildlife enthusiast. The schedule is fixed. If weekdays are spent in planning the rollout of its made-for-India SUV, a trump card Honda Cars India expects a lot from, weekends are spent in the wilderness, tracking the big cats in Ranthambore.

Describing the schedule, Tsumura says, “If I am able to wrap up work by Friday evening at 6.00 pm, it is just a four-hour drive to Ranthambore. I like to do one safari in the morning on Saturday, and one in the evening. I like to go back to the forest on Sunday morning and then return back in the night in Greater Noida, so that I am in the office on Monday morning, taking care of the P&L.”

The head of Honda says he would like to escape every weekend till the monsoon begins.  Identifying himself as an amateur photographer on Instagram, Tsumura had recently posted photographs of the Snow Leopard from Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh in the month of March — a rare sighting for many.

Tsumura has loved animals since he was a small kid, in fact as a teenager he aspired to be a “pet doctor” he recalls. But pragmatism pushes him to take up photography to fulfil his passion for animals and he decided to join Honda Motor Company for his first job.

Having travelled around the globe, with stints in Thailand, China, Turkey, Australia amongst other markets, Tsumura has visited numerous wild forests around the world.

When asked what is on his bucket list,  Tsumura shares he wants to visit the jungles in South America and he would love to spot a red panda in China, a wish that never got fulfilled while he was in China for five years selling the Acura brand. Till then, he will be relying on his explorer streak to carve a space for the Honda brand in the crowded Indian concrete jungles.

When asked if he was ever scared of any animals in the wild, Tsumura says with a smile, “Animals don’t attack, humans do.” A sentiment that dovetails perfectly with Honda’s environmentally conscious aim to move towards a zero carbon by 2050, a reality.

This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's May 1, 2023 issue.

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