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Toyoda heads Toyota

Family man: Toyota's new president, Akio Toyoda, raced in the recent Nurburgring 24-Hour in a Lexus.

Grandson of 1937 founder officially named as new president of Toyota Motor

Toyota logo24 Jun 2009

AKIO Toyoda was officially appointed, as expected, as the new president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation during the company’s annual general meeting in Nagoya yesterday (June 23).

The announcement caps a meteoric rise to supremacy for the 53-year-old grandson of Kiichiro Toyoda, who founded Toyota in 1937, while outgoing president Katsuaki Watanabe moves to the more ceremonial role of vice-chairman but stays on the board.

As previously reported, Mr Toyoda has long been groomed for the top job at the world’s biggest auto-maker, which has endured plummeting profits globally after overtaking General Motors in terms of total sales last year for the first time.

Toyota is expecting last year’s operating loss – its first in 71 years – to blow out to ¥850 billion ($A11.2b) in its fiscal year ending March 2010.

“We expect to face continued hardship in our business environment for the near term, despite signs of recovery in some areas,” departing president Mr Watanabe told shareholders. “We are sorry to have worried our shareholders.”

The appointment of Mr Toyoda, who is fluent in English, passionate about cars and raced a Lexus LF-A V10 in last month’s Nurburgring 24-hour race, is part of a major reshuffle within the boardroom at Toyota City.

Toyota’s design and research and development departments have also been adjusted, with head of design Wahei Hirai to become senior technical executive and Takeshi Uchiyamada, who was Toyota’s executive vice-president in charge of production, to become chief officer of the design group, as well as overseeing product management and R&D.

The executive formerly in charge of R&D and future technologies, Masatami Takimoto, will be a senior advisor at Toyota, while Toyota has called back Yoshimi Inaba, who was CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA from 1999 to 2003 before departing the company in 2007 to run Nagoya’s international airport, to oversee US sales and government relations.

Mr Inaba will report to Atsushi Niimi, who was promoted from purchasing chief to executive vice-president in charge of North America and will also head Toyota’s global production operations.

Yukitoshi Funo, the former head the Americas Operations Group, was also promoted to lead global operations in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, China and Asia.

A Toyota US spokesman said the company’s five executive vice-presidents now have regional responsibilities in addition to the functional roles that existed previously, making it easier to make faster decisions in the field at senior managing director levels and below.

Mr Toyoda and his new management team are scheduled to hold a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday.

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