Surprise CEO change for Toyota
Koji Sato unexpectedly succeeded Akio Toyoda as CEO of Toyota. The grandson of the group’s founder has been in office since 2009.
Koji Sato has been appointed CEO of the Toyota Group.
Toyota, announced Thursday, October 26, 2023, the surprise appointment, from April 1, of Koji Sato as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, replacedAkio Toyoda, the grandson of the group’s founder. At age 66, Akio Toyoda, who has been CEO since 2009, will take over as chairman of the group’s board of directors Takeshi Uchiyamada76 years old.
Koji Sato, 53, has been the Group Chief Operating Officer and Brand Director since January 2021. He has also been the president of Lexus International Co since 2020, Toyota’s premium brand, and the president of Gazoo Racing, the brand of group motorsport. He joined Toyota in 1992, after studying mechanical engineering at the prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo.
Akio Toyoda praised the virtues of his successor in an online press conference, especially his “youth“, his love for cars and the dynamism of his team.”To promote change in an era when the future is unpredictable, the leader must constantly stay on the front line. For this, endurance, strength and passion are essential“, explained Akio Toyoda.
Also read: Toyota targets 10.6 million vehicles produced by 2023
“He’s young and has classmates, so I expect him to push boundaries that I haven’t.“, he added.”I am an engineer and have devoted myself to building cars for a long time. I like to build carsKoji Sato said.
These management changes need to be formalized after the group’s ordinary general meeting later this year. “This is positive because it will stimulate the management of the company“while maintaining some form of stability, with Akio Toyoda in a supervisory role, the automotive analyst estimated Tatsuo Yoshida in a note from Bloomberg Economics.
Late switch to electric
Akio Toyoda was also 53 when he became Toyota’s youngest CEO in 2009, at a time when the group, battered by the global economic crisis, sought to reunite with the symbol of the founding family. After a hesitant first step, this motor racing enthusiast (and happy driver himself under the pseudonym “Morizo”) became a charismatic boss.
He regularly raised his group to the world number one in its sector in terms of sales volume, thanks especially to its excellent positions in China and North America. Since 2020, Toyota is again at the top of this ranking, ahead of the German Volkswagen group.
Champion of hybrid engines and pioneer of hydrogen, Toyota has nevertheless been slow to accelerate in battery electric vehicles, unlike many of its main foreign competitors, thus attracting a lot of criticism, especially from environmental NGOs. The group finally announced major investments in this segment from the end of 2021, but almost reluctantly.
Also read: Toyota announced five electric models in Europe by 2026
So Akio Toyoda continued thereafter to be regularly skeptical about the prospects of electric cars for the mass market. And last year’s launch of the bZ4X SUV, the inaugural model of Toyota’s first electric range, was delayed by an embarrassing recall campaign just after it went on sale, due to a problem with its wheel alignments.
As a continuation of Akio Toyoda, Koji Sato promises to continue “accelerating the transition to electrification“, while making sure to make cars “responding to diverse values and local needs“. Considering the group’s current credo of not putting all its eggs in one basket and leaving as many options as possible to its customers, depending on the speed of the low-carbon transition in its- their regions. (with AFP)