Lexus executives set to replace Toyota


A senior Toyota executive will step down as head of the company his grandfather founded. The automaker said Thursday. It delivered it to the leader of the luxury brand, Lexus, as the Japanese giant struggled to transition to electric vehicles.

Koji Sato, the 53-year-old chief brand officer and president of Toyota Motor’s Lexus brand, will take over from April 1 when Akio Toyoda becomes president.

The issue of who will occupy the top position in Toyota It is Japan’s largest company and one of the most influential manufacturers in the world. get more attention for investors But the timing of the announcement was a surprise.

Under Toyoda, 66, who has led the company for more than a decade. This automaker seems reluctant to go electric. Arguing that the hybrid technology pioneered by the market-leading Prius is better suited for many drivers.

It also touts hydrogen-powered cars as the future. This has raised fears of being left behind by the rise of electric cars. Because the flashier and nimble Tesla has eclipsed both innovation and stock price.

Such a stand on hybrid and hydrogen vehicles has also drawn criticism from investors and environmental activists. which once widely praised Toyota’s technology and emissions statistics.

Anders Schelde, head of investments, said: “There is no doubt that Mr. Toyoda is a capable CEO. But the entire automotive sector needs to change drastically, and Toyota is lagging behind in this regard. So this could be an opportunity for a fresh start,” said investment chief Anders Schelde. Employees of the Pension Fund Denmark’s AkademikerPension, which has repeatedly pressured Toyota to accelerate the switch to electric cars

“We hope this will help Toyota set a new direction. But we still have to wait and see.”

The succession announcement aired on a webcast via the automaker’s Toyota Times channel. In a way, it seemed more like an arrogant talk show show host than an official company announcement.

“This moment was a surprise,” said Seiji Sugiura, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, who noted that there may be There is a “stagnant feeling” within the company due to the recent pressure on share prices.

“It may be that day-to-day management will not change. the Akio Toyoda stepping down as CEO may add to his mark within the company. And it can be difficult for a new generation of presidents to really show their talents.”

There was also little mention of a concrete corporate strategy or upcoming investment priorities. Toyoda said Sato’s mission was to turn Toyota into a “mobility company,” without specifying that it would involve what

“CEOs want youth, power and strength,” Toyoda said, noting that he has now become “Souvenirs” of the older generation. In Sato, he says, he has chosen a friend who is a fanatic of cars.

‘Touch the baton’

Toyoda described the detachment as a “touch” in leadership. But events onstage underscored his continued pivotal role. From time to time, he turned to Sato for advice and admonition.

Sato said Toyoda had offered him the CEO job at the end of the year when they were in Thailand to attend Toyota’s 60th anniversary celebrations there.

“I didn’t know how to answer that,” Sato recalled. “I thought it was a joke.”

A Toyota executive, who asked not to be identified, said the automaker was entering an era of This term refers to a period in Japan’s history where the retired emperor still called the shots.

During his more than a decade of leadership Toyoda has been the automaker’s chairman at a time of intense industry change and growing uncertainty about how older automakers can fend off challenges from new challengers such as Tesla.

Toyoda said at a news conference that his tenure as Toyota’s leader began in 2009 with “crisis after crisis” caused by the effects of the global recession. Toyota Recall and Toyota Safety Crisis to the subsequent disruption following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan.

At the shareholders’ meeting in june last yearToyoda said he was “Thinking about timing and choosing a successor” when asked about his future.

On Thursday, he said Sato was chosen because he “worked hard” to learn Toyota’s philosophy.

Sato began his career at Toyota in 1992 before being promoted to chief engineer at Lexus International. which is Toyota’s luxury car brand in 2016, according to his profile on the company’s website.

He has served as president of Lexus International and Gazoo Racing Company, Toyota’s motorsports brand, since 2020. He also assumed an executive role at Toyota, becoming Chief Branding Officer in January 2021.

Toyota director Philip Craven said in a video-recorded statement that the board had reviewed and approved a succession plan proposed by Toyoda and outgoing chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada.


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