Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda to Step Aside, Become Chairman

AP file photo
Toyota Motor Corp. Chief Executive Akio Toyoda delivers a speech on the stage at the Tokyo Auto Salon, an industry event similar to the world’s auto shows on Jan. 13 in Chiba near Tokyo.

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday that its CEO and president, Akio Toyoda, will become chairman. He will be replaced as CEO by the automaker’s chief branding officer, Koji Sato.

Toyota announced the leadership reshuffle without any forewarning, but it had a lively promotional video prepared to highlight Toyoda and Sato’s love for electric vehicles and fast cars.

Sato, 53, has been managing the Toyota group’s Lexus brand operations and motor racing.

Toyoda, grandson of Toyota’s founder Kiichiro Toyoda, took over as CEO of Toyota in 2009. He will replace as chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, who is giving up the title but will remain a representative director at the company.

Toyoda had earlier hinted he was thinking about who might succeed him.

In remarks on YouTube, Toyoda said Uchiyamada’s retirement was a “trigger” for his decision to become chairman.

In order to further push forward Toyota’s transformation, I thought it would be best for me to be chairman and support the new president, and that’s how I reached the decision, he said.