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Mazda chairman and R&D chief both set to leave

That's it: Mazda chairman Hisakazu Imaki is stepping back from the front line.

‘Imaki era’ over as Mazda chairman set to step down and R&D chief Hayama resigns

Mazda logo13 May 2010

MAZDA Motor Corporation’s chairman Hisakazu Imaki and R&D chief Nobuhiro Hayama will both step down from their positions, effective from the Japanese car-makers’ annual general meeting on June 24.

Current president and CEO Takashi Yamanouchi will assume the post of chairman of the board, in addition to his current duties, while Mr Imaki will become a ‘supreme executive adviser’.

There is no word yet on a replacement for Mr Hayama, who is a director of the company and the senior managing executive officer in charge of R&D, quality and powertrain development.

Mr Hayama is also in charge of Mazda’s electric drive system development, and in an interview with GoAuto late last year said the company remained committed to hydrogen as a genuine long-term alternative to fossil fuels.

He was also driving Mazda’s commitment to reduce the weight of its future models.

In other personnel moves announced this week, Mazda’s corporate auditor Shigeki Wakamatsu will step down, with Kazuyuki Mitate, the general manager of the corporate communications division, taking on the role.

The executive responsible for overseeing Mazda’s relationship with Ford, Thomas Pixton, will also be promoted as a director of the company. The same applies for Masamichi Kogai, who is in charge of production and business logistics.

 center image Left: Mazda R&D chief Nobuhiro Hayama. Below: Mazda president and CEO Takashi Yamanouchi.

Mr Yamanouchi said Mr Imaki had made a “tremendous contribution” to Mazda over the past 45 years.

“Since joining Mazda more than 45 years ago, Mr Imaki has worked primarily in the areas of production engineering and manufacturing and contributed greatly to the company’s growth,” he said.

“During his term as president from 2003 through 2008, the company posted increases in revenues and profits for seven consecutive years and achieved record profits.

“While serving as president, Mr Imaki also promoted the strengthening of the company’s product and brand strategy and led the development of the next-generation Sky concept powertrains.

“In November 2008, just after the global financial crisis struck, Mr Imaki introduced a new line-up of corporate officers. He was named chairman of the board, I became president, and the entire management team steered the company through the unprecedented economic crisis.

“In the fiscal year ending March 2010, the company posted an operating profit and is on the road to recovery, so Mr Imaki has taken this opportunity to retire from day-to-day management.”

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