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Mazda names new global CEO

Moving on: Outgoing Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi.

Production guru Kogai to step up as CEO after Mazda’s first profit in five years

Mazda logo10 May 2013

By TERRY MARTIN

MAZDA Motor Corporation has promoted its production and purchasing chief Masamichi Kogai as president and CEO, replacing Takashi Yamanouchi as the Japanese auto giant embarks on a more financially secure period.

Pending approval at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on June 25, the appointment comes just over a week after the Hiroshima-based car-maker reported its first profit in five years, with Mr Yamanouchi leading Mazda through a turbulent period after taking the reins in November 2008 when Ford relinquished its controlling stake.

Since then, Mr Yamanouchi has guided Mazda through the global financial crisis, economic problems in Japan and the effects of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, while also transforming its business by cutting costs, broadening its overseas footprint and investing heavily in the new SkyActiv vehicle architecture and powertrain strategy.

As GoAuto has reported, MMC has now forecast continued growth in the current financial year ending March 31, 2014, with profits projected to more than double on global sales of 1.335 million – up 8 per cent on last financial year and driven largely by continued sales of its successful SkyActiv models.

Mr Kogai has played a key role in Mazda’s recovery as the senior managing executive officer in charge of production, purchasing, business logistics and IT. In particular, he is credited with achieving significant efficiencies in manufacturing under the so-called ‘mono-tsukuri’ strategy.

Mr Yamanouchi will retain his title as chairman of the board.

Similarly, vice-president Seita Kanai, who also played a key role in the SkyActiv strategy, will become vice-chairman, making way for a new vice-president – Akira Marumoto, a long-serving R&D executive who is currently in charge of corporate planning, profit control, product strategy, corporate brand enhancement and cost innovation.

Mr Marumoto will continue to be in charge of corporate planning, and will also oversee Mazda’s operations in the Americas.

In a statement, MMC said its financial situation last year, in which it incurred a ¥107.7 billion ($A1.07 billion) loss, meant a management restructure was suspended.

Now that is has returned to profitability, the company says it has been making “steady headway in its structural reform which will underpin future growth”.

“In light of this progress, the present action was taken to rejuvenate the executive leadership and allow the new team to aim for greater growth,” the company said.

Mr Kogai joined Mazda in 1977 and has held a number of senior positions including general manager of the Hofu plant, president of the Auto Alliance (Thailand) Mazda-Ford joint venture and, since 2008, key roles in R&D, production, logistics, cost improvement and IT.

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