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Unveiling Yamaha's Vision for the Future: An Exclusive Interview with Yamaha Motor Europe's President & CEO, Eric de Seynes

During our exclusive interview, the President shed light on Yamaha's unwavering dedication to pushing boundaries, introducing groundbreaking solutions, and exceeding the expectations of their loyal community of Yamaha owners. From electrification to connectivity, sustainability to customer-centricity, we delved into the company's initiatives that are set to shape the future of mobility and enhance the riding experience.

With a rich heritage spanning decades and a reputation built on superior engineering and craftsmanship, Yamaha has consistently proven its commitment to delivering unrivaled performance, reliability, and sheer exhilaration to riders worldwide. Today, we invite you to delve into the insightful conversation that unveils Yamaha's vision for the future and showcases their unwavering passion for innovation, excellence, and the joy of riding.

1. Mr. de Seynes, could you please share your background and experience leading up to your current role as President & CEO of Yamaha Motor Europe? 

As far as I can remember, I’ve always been a motorcycle passionate, inheriting this passion from my father. And as soon as I could, I took part into racing events: road, endurance, enduro and African rallies. Later on, I’ve been working mostly in the motorsport and petroleum fields, before joining Yamaha in 1990. First at Yamaha Motor France as product planning, marketing, and motorsport manager for all product groups and after three years as motorcycle division manager for almost 7 years. In this period, we became #1 on the French market, a position we maintained for 26 years, from 1996. Later, I became General Manager of Yamaha motor France and then President, working very closely with Japan on the development of new motorcycle models for the European market. In 2014, I was asked to come to Yamaha Motor Europe, as COO, to renew our European strategy and reinforce the synergies between the group organization and our different distribution affiliates. Once this dynamic was implemented, I was nominated Executive Officer of Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd., before becoming the president of Yamaha Motor Europe, one year later.

2. The global supply chain has faced significant challenges in recent years, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How has Yamaha Motor Europe adapted to these challenges to ensure a steady supply of motorcycles for the European market? 

The supply chain question raised up in 1997 and at that time, I was part of a task force group that implemented our logistic as exploited over the past 20 years. Our supply chain includes 6 main warehouses, in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Milan, Barcelona, Lyon and Lille and this supply chain has allowed us to improve our stock rotation as well as the service given to the customer, in a more structured way. Of course, the covid sanitary crisis has strongly destabilized all this, and the reason was more logistical between our different production plants in the world and Europe. The shortage of containers was real, and the lack of logistic and human resources has been our everyday for nearly 3 years. Today, things are back to normal, even if sensitive components and raw materials still require our attention.

3. As we know, the chip shortage has impacted many industries, including the automotive and motorcycle sectors. How has this issue affected Yamaha's motorcycle production and delivery timelines in Europe?  

For the past three years, the chip shortage has been a major obstacle for our production volumes. Indeed, faced with the reduction in spending in the areas of leisure and travel, customers have deferred their spending towards home and electronic equipment and vehicles. All these products only work thanks to semi-conductors and the tension was and still remains extremely intense on these components. Today, we are not yet out of this difficulty and cannot imagine a return to normal before the beginning of next year. However, this difficulty is now concentrated on a few models only, mainly the 125 and 300 cc scooters.

4. With the chip shortage in mind, have there been any adjustments or changes to Yamaha's plans for developing and implementing advanced technologies, such as smartphone integration with motorcycle dash consoles? 

The consequences of these ruptures affect in the first-place existing products, but obviously also have consequences on new technologies, particularly in terms of connectivity. Despite everything, we continue to believe in a return to normal condition in the coming months.

5. Yamaha is known for its continuous innovation in the motorcycle industry. How is Yamaha Motor Europe addressing the potential long-term effects of supply chain disruptions on the development of new models and features? 

There has been no negative effect on our products’ development plans that could be linked to the recent disruption in the supply chain. Our innovation plans and R&D are still as active as during the covid period and we hope to keep surprising the market during the coming decade. In this field, the constraints are more linked to the regulatory evolutions that could be imposed and that are extremely time-consuming for our engineers. The customer mostly doesn’t realize the development time that the transition from one norm to another (euro4 to euro5 to euro5-b, etc.) can represent for generalist manufacturers, that exploit 15 to 25 different motorizations. These regulations really cost us many new concepts that cannot be developed due to lhuman resources limitation.

6. How does Yamaha Motor Europe plan to strengthen the relationship between the company and the Yamaha Owners Club members, particularly in terms of exclusive events, activities, or benefits? 

It is not easy for Yamaha Motor Europe to get in contact with our different owners’ clubs, because our customers’ relations are the responsibility of our distributors and branches, locally. However, we try to be in relation with these associations by identifying them and listening to their needs. One of our initiatives, the creation of the Yamaha historical racing team (YHRC) a few years ago, was meant to encourage the proximity between collectors, to better share technical information about the maintenance of the historical racing bikes and to meet this community at chosen racing events. Yet we are only at the beginning of this relation reinforcement, and I hope we will be able to nourish better this relation between our brand and these associations in the future.  

7. How is Yamaha Motor Europe addressing the challenges of urban mobility, and what role do you see motorcycles playing in the future of transportation in European cities? 

Yamaha has always been a major actor in the urban mobility and if there is one domain in which the electric mobility will evolve, it is in this short distance mobility. The advantages of the electric powered-two-wheelers (e-PTW) reach further than the compacity, the maneuverability and the participation to the fluidity of traffic: the e-motorization contributes to the reduction of co2 emissions in the big cities, where the world population is concentrated. And this technology also strongly contributes to the reduction of noise emissions, which is very important. I thus expect an important role of e-PTW in the evolvement of urban mobility, in the future.

8. In terms of environmental sustainability, can you share any insights into Yamaha Motor Europe's plans for expanding the electric and hybrid motorcycle range in the European market? 

It is difficult to project ourselves further than the cities because the main obstacle is the technology of the batteries that does not progress fast enough to preserve the compacity and lightness of our vehicles, warranting a sufficient autonomy at the same time. This is why we believe more in keeping combustion engines in combination with non-fossil fuels: eco-fuel, biofuel, or synthetic fuels. It should be understood that the use of such fuels could allow a very significant reduction in the overall co2 footprint while maintaining the technology of combustion engines. It would therefore not be reasonable to consider the disappearance of combustion engines within the next 15 years.

9. Yamaha Owners Club members are particularly interested in the flagship MT-10 MY24. Can you share any details about planned updates or enhancements, such as keyless ignition or additional color scheme options? 

I can understand that your association is interested in our future updates and enhancements, however I cannot share any information regarding the technologic innovations that will be made on our 2024 models. As you know, the MT-10 has been deeply renewed last year and this bike is certainly one of the most desirable models in our range, as it is today. And I hope its qualities will help you wait patiently.

10. Lastly, Mr. de Seynes, despite the current challenges, what exciting developments or upcoming motorcycle models can Yamaha Owners Club members in Europe look forward to in the near future?

In future years, we will continue to work on optimizing the performance of our engines in order to pursue the reduction of gas emissions, while maintaining the performance and the Kando feeling of our models.  There are obviously many developments expected in the field of connectivity, electronics, piloting assistance, as Tracer 9 GT+ demonstrates. We will continue to protect the emotions and riding pleasure, because we remain convinced that motorcycling must continue to drive emotions. Finally, Yamaha wants to remain a brand that welcomes newcomers, and we will always keep paying particular attention to the accessibility of our models and our entry-level vehicles, which must remain attractive in terms of design, ease of driving and performance. Beyond the products, we will continue to offer our customers various services and programs allowing them to discover new practices and territories on the handlebar of their Yamaha!

In conclusion, our conversation with the President & CEO of Yamaha Motor Europe reveals a company fully committed to shaping the future of mobility. With their passion for innovation and deep understanding of riders' desires, Yamaha is poised to redefine what's possible on two wheels.
Exciting developments in electric powertrains and connectivity are on the horizon, promising an immersive and exhilarating riding experience. Yamaha's dedication to sustainability ensures that this future will be environmentally conscious and socially responsible.
As a trailblazer in the industry, Yamaha continues to push boundaries and uphold their reputation for excellence. Stay tuned as Yamaha pioneers new horizons, embraces innovation, and invites Yamaha owners to embark on unforgettable journeys while experiencing the sheer joy of riding.

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