The Yamaha mantra for sustainability

by Murali Gopalan 02 Aug 2022


Sustainability has been introduced as an additional main theme for the new medium-term management plan. The first area to be given particular priority under this plan is carbon-neutrality.

In the Yamaha Motor Group Environmental Plan 2050, says Yoshihiro Hidaka, there is a clear definition of the  target of achieving carbon neutrality across business activities and supply chain by 2050 as well as reducing per-person CO2 emissions from transportation.

“To reduce Scope 3 emissions, we bolstered our R&D capabilities with a new facility at the headquarters completed in fiscal 2021 with the aim of ramping up powertrain technology development,” elaborates the President, CEO and Representative Director of Yamaha Motor Co (pictured) in the Integrated Report 2022. 

The building’s new equipment includes test benches for assessing and testing the performance of electric motors, hydrogen supply equipment, and carbon-neutral fuel storage tanks. This new equipment will be used to develop various powertrain technologies primarily targeting battery-powered EVs, fuel cells, and hydrogen and synthetic fuel systems. 

Platform strategy
“At the same time, we are accelerating the development of EVs through our platform strategy, with the goal of introducing at least 10 battery-powered electric mobility models by 2024,” says Hiadaka. 

On this front, Yamaha had launched the Neos electric scooter with a removable battery in Europe in June this year and plans to “begin releasing the E01 electric scooter” which employs a fixed battery design, as a model for proof-of-concept testing in Japan, Europe, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia starting in July.

Digital transformation strategies form another part of the sustainability initiatives and will enable connecting directly with customers to provide services that cater “even more” to their needs. “I remember around the time when I had just become President, some four years ago, a woman rider told me that she had not even put Yamaha among her purchase options because she felt that the seats on our models were too high and that her feet could not reach the ground,” reminiscences Hidaka. 

Purchasing patterns
This was something the company was, of course, aware of and “we take steps” to ensure the ride is comfortable even with a high seat height. However, customers often make their decisions based on the figures for seat height in the brochure, so if that number does not become smaller, “customers such as that woman will be unwilling to ride a Yamaha”. 

As Hidaka says, this is a rather simple issue when one thinks about it and the encounter with this woman made him realise that the company had perhaps been neglectful in its response to the purchasing patterns of some customers.

“Digital transformation will allow us to connect directly with and receive input from customers around the world. We will also be able to track statistics like where and how our products are being used and the current state of said products,” he adds. 

At present, Yamaha Motor is “aggressively rolling out” connected products, such as motorcycles with smartphone connectivity, in order to transform its business through an even greater emphasis on customers while also delivering new experiences by connecting with them. 

“Moreover, we have defined the number of registered Yamaha Motor IDs as a key performance indicator (KPI) for the development of customer touchpoints and the creation of lifelong customers through both digital and physical means. We look to grow the number of such users to 4.7 million by 2024, which will represent a sixfold increase from 2021,” elaborates Hidaka.

Another area of the sustainability push is human resource strategies where there are no two ways about the fact that employees are the drivers of growth. In order to “better energise" its workforce, Yamaha has made employee engagement a KPI while promoting diversity, inclusion, and human resource development to achieve improvements in that regard. 

“For example, I personally sat down to hold discussions with groups of 20 new employees on 50 occasions over the past year, thereby meeting 1,000 employees myself. Our viewpoints and the breadth of our perspectives are as diverse as our people, and these meetings exposed me to various outlooks and opinions,” says Hidaka.

Supporting colleagues
According to him, he was also reminded of the diverse capabilities of the company’s employees. At the same time, around 70 percent of the issues raised during these discussions were those that were close to home for employees. Specifically, many cited that their workplace leaders were often too busy with their own work to talk with or provide support to their subordinates, leading to a lack of training. 

“I therefore think that there is a need to reform our target management and human resource frameworks in order to allow leaders to spend more time on their more managerial duties,” says the Yamaha President.

The last of our sustainability initiatives are efforts for ensuring the safety and peace of mind of riders. More than ever, “we must focus on this if we want to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents”. To this end, the company is expanding its lineup of models with connectivity. 

A large portion of motorcycle accidents are collisions with cars when turning across traffic, and to prevent such accidents, Yamaha Motor is pursuing the practical application of technologies for inter-vehicle communication.  At the same time, the Yamaha Riding Academy (YRA) works to help riders improve their skills with the aim of raising rider awareness of safety on the road and giving them instruction for riding safely.

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