Big change at Toyota: The founder’s grandson resigns as CEO when many people oppose the ‘delay’ strategy with electric cars, the replacement is the President of Lexus

Tram Ho

Bloomberg reported, Toyota has just appointed Lexus brand president Koji Sato as chief executive officer, replacing Akio Toyoda – who has held this position for a long time.

This is seen as an important change as the world’s largest carmaker navigates the automotive industry’s revolutionary shift towards more electrification and automation.

In a company statement, Mr. Toyoda, the grandson of the Japanese car giant’s founder, will become chairman effective April 1. He became CEO of Toyota more than a decade ago and oversaw Toyota’s rise to become the world’s No.

Sato, 53, assumes leadership of Toyota at a pivotal time. The automaker is facing criticism for not wanting to get into electric vehicles, instead betting on various technologies such as battery electric vehicles, hybrid technology, hydrogen powered cars. and traditional combustion cars.

“I am an engineer and have dedicated myself to car manufacturing, and I will continue to do so as CEO,” Mr. Sato said in an online press conference.

According to information on the company’s website, Mr. Sato was appointed brand director of Toyota in January 2021. After graduating from Waseda University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in March 1992, he joined Toyota in April of the same year.

Thay đổi lớn ở Toyota: Cháu trai nhà sáng lập từ chức CEO khi nhiều người phản đối chiến lược chần chừ với xe điện, người thay thế là Chủ tịch Lexus - Ảnh 1.

In early 2016, Sato was appointed chief engineer of Lexus International Co., and in April of the following year, he became director of Toyota’s luxury car division. In September 2020, Sato was also appointed president of Gazoo Racing, the company’s sports car and road car brand.

Mitsushige Akino, an analyst at Ichiyoshi Asset Management, said the appointment of Sato and Toyoda leaving sends a clear message.

“The economic and social environment has become more volatile, and as president, Akio Toyoda will be able to take a broader view of management,” he said. Stronger management would be good for Toyota. By appointing Sato, who is not a senior official, as CEO, the message is that it is time for young people to take over.”

The change that Toyoda is making is not unprecedented. At 66, he will move into the chairman role at the same age as previous CEOs of the automaker, which tends to stick to historical precedent. Katsuaki Watanabe stepped down at the age of 67. Before him, Fujio Cho left the position at the age of 68 and Hiroshi Okuda at the age of 66.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, current president of Toyota will step down.


According to data compiled by Bloomberg, Toyoda is the second longest-serving head of a major auto company. He took the helm of Toyota in 2009, shortly after Elon Musk took over his position at Tesla Inc.

During Toyota’s annual shareholder meeting in June, Toyoda mentioned the steps the company is taking to find and develop potential successors. Anyone who follows in his footsteps must have “an unshakable belief in why Toyota exists and a firm understanding of the company’s philosophy.” At the same time, he also added that his goal will be to “rejuvenate” the leadership with this move.

Automakers from Volkswagen AG to Ford Motor Co. are rapidly shifting from cars powered by internal combustion engines to new and futuristic product lines. Many companies are now betting on electrification as a way forward.

While Toyota is spending 4 trillion yen ($31 billion) to launch 30 electric models by 2030, Toyoda has a reputation for being the opposite of the industry’s future. He doubts that consumers are ready for a change at the rate some are anticipating. That approach has been questioned by some, who see it as a risk to Toyota’s long standing position as the world’s dominant automaker. However, others see it as a long-term bet.

Source: Bloomberg

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