Akio Toyoda has been confirmed today as Toyota's new president and CEO, following Toyota's AGM in Nagoya.
The grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, Akio, 53, has long been groomed for the top job in the company. Fluent in English and passionate about cars and driving, Akio who raced an LF-A V10 in last month's Nurburgring 24 Hours, is clearly not your typical Japanese car exec.
Akio's rise to prominence is being seen as a change of direction for Toyota which last year overtook GM to become the world's biggest car maker, but has since seen sales and profits crash across the globe. How to adapt and respond to that crisis and create a new wave of products for the 2010s is the key and in Tokyo, Akio is already being seen as the symbol of that change. Akio's CEO appointment coincides with a major clear-out in the boardroom in Toyota City. Outgoing president Katsuaki Watanabe moves up to the more ceremonial role of vice-chairman but still stays on the board. Toyota's R&D and design sections have also been realigned. Wahei Hirai, Toyota's personable head of design, moves across to become Senior Technical Executive. Takeshi Uchiyamada, hitherto Toyota's executive vice-president in charge of production (and chief engineer of the first Prius) now becomes chief officer of the design group, as well as overseeing product management and R&D. Masatami Takimoto, most recently the executive in charge of R&D and future technologies, becomes senior advisor inside Toyota.