What Makes a Honda – Nick’s Story
Even though Naoki “Nick” Sugimoto studied automotive engineering at the University of Tokyo, he never planned to work in the automotive industry. Now, Sugimoto, who joined Honda in 2005, serves as a liaison between the technology and automotive industries and is the newest Honda associate featured in the What Makes a Honda is Who Makes a Honda video series.
Sugimoto leads Honda Silicon Valley Lab (HSVL), overseeing Honda’s advanced information technology R&D in Silicon Valley, as well as its strategic partnerships globally as the Senior Program Director of HSVL. The lab spearheads global interactions between Honda and technology companies to create cutting-edge products and customer experiences.
“A lot of change is happening in the technology and automotive industries, and going forward it is more important now than ever for Honda to work with innovators of all types to remain competitive,” said Sugimoto.
A dealmaker at heart, Sugimoto was an entrepreneur who has led a series of technology venture companies in the U.S. and Japan prior to joining Honda, including a website he describes as a combination between Yelp and Craigslist for Japanese speakers.
According to Sugimoto, while the connected car experience took a big step forward with the introduction of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to Honda vehicles including the 2016 Accord and Civic, it is only the beginning. “Your experience in the car is going to be very, very different in the future,” he said.
Through Sugimoto’s leadership, Honda played a key role in founding the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), a group of automakers and technology companies committed to bringing the Android platform to cars.
For years before joining the company, Sugimoto says he admired Honda from afar, and even named his son after company founder. Now, Sugimoto says he hopes to host as many Honda associates as possible at HSVL in the future, so Honda associates can carry the banner of high technology innovation beyond Silicon Valley and into Honda R&D divisions in the U.S. and around the world.
In his spare time, Sugimoto enjoys sailing in the San Francisco Bay.