Toyota Motor’s President and Chief Executive, Akio Toyoda, is going to quit his post on April 1. He will be succeeded by current Chief Branding Officer Koji Sato.
His resignation triggered a structural change in the company.
Toyoda, 66, who is the grandson of the carmaker’s founder and has served as Chief Executive since June 2009, will become the new Chairman of the board, while the current Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada will continue as a member of the board, the Japanese automaker said.
Sato, 53, has been heading the Toyota Lexus division and the GAZOO racing company since 2020.
“I thought the best way to further Toyota’s transformation would be for me to become chairman in support of a new president, and this has led to today’s decision. Chairman Uchiyamada has long supported me in all imaginable ways,” Toyoda said in a translated webcast.
He continued, “In retrospect, these 13 years have been a period of struggling to survive one day after the next, and that is my honest feeling."
“The foundation for passing the baton to the next generation has been laid,” he said.
“Cars in the future will evolve in the concept of mobility itself. Amid such, I hope to preserve the essential value of the car and propose new forms of mobility,” Sato said, adding that this represented the mission of the new leadership team.
Tokyo-listed shares of Toyota ended the session 0.63% lower on Thursday ahead of the announcement.
A pioneer of green automobiles in 1997 with the introduction of its hybrid Prius, the company has increasingly fended off criticism over the pace at which it has pursued fully-electric vehicles, playing catch-up to newcomers such as Tesla.
In Dec. 2021, it announced plans to produce 30 EV models by 2030. A year later, in Dec. 2022, it said a consortium it leads secured funding to develop a hydrogen fuel cell pickup truck in the U.K.
Sato signalled Toyota's green efforts: “Energy security, for example, is a big challenge that the whole planet needs to face. And also that the endeavor towards carbon neutrality will be one example of what we have to work on.”