Akio Toyoda resigns: Toyota names Koji Sato as new CEO

Hong Kong

Toyota Chairman and CEO Akio Toyoda resigns and hands over reins The world’s largest automaker to Lexus boss Koji Sato.

The Japanese company announced the reorganization on Thursday, saying Toyoda would be named chairman of the board when Sato takes over day-to-day management. Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s current chairman, will step down but remain on the board, the company said. The changes will take effect on April 1.

The leadership shakeup marks the end of an era.

Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder, took over as president in June 2009 after gaining experience “in all phases of automotive operations, including production, marketing, and product development, both in Japan and abroad.” international level”, according to Toyota.

But Toyoda alluded to a difficult tenure during a news conference in Japan on Thursday, saying: “When I look back on my past 13 years as president, there has never been a day that was peaceful.”

“I never experienced a calm and peaceful year,” he said, saying he didn’t always feel “welcomed as president” and that it was hard to hear criticism of his leadership.

“I think over the last 13 years I’ve built a strong foundation to pass the baton.”

Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota, speaking at the company's showroom in Tokyo on December 14, 2021.

The 66-year-old chief executive previously said he would rather work “with the factory guys” on the assembly line than “sit in an office.”

The regime change comes as Toyota is being scrutinized for falling behind in the electric vehicle race.

Unlike other automakers betting on electric vehicles, Toyota has previously said it’s still not convinced that’s the best way to go.

Koji Sato speaking at the Tokyo Motor Show on January 13, 2023. Sato will take over as CEO of Toyota in April.

The world’s largest automaker in terms of vehicles sold, Toyota has lagged behind most of the world’s top competitors in building fully battery-powered electric vehicles, despite its history as a leader in hybrid vehicles.

However, the automaker has been investing more than others in developing electric vehicles powered by on-board hydrogen fuel cells, rather than rechargeable batteries.

Sato, who currently serves as Toyota’s chief operating officer and brand director as well as oversees Lexus, said Thursday that his new leadership team will focus on turning the automaker into a full-fledged “mobility company.” .

— Chris Isidore contributed to this report.

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