Tokyo - Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda overhauled his top management for a second straight year, strengthening his control over the world’s largest carmaker to vie with General Motors and Volkswagen.
Of the seven executive vice presidents ranked below Toyoda, three will step down and two will be brought in effective April 1, the Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker said in a statement today.
Chairman Fujio Cho, serving in a largely ceremonial role, will be succeeded by current Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada.
Toyoda, who added only one executive vice president during his first three years as president, is tightening his grip on the carmaker as he prepares to enter a fourth year of running Japan’s largest company.
A weakening yen is boosting earnings, while the scion and his team face the challenge of making Toyota more competitive in global markets from China to the US.
“It’s been gradual, steady process and this is just part of the change that’s in his mind,” said Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research in Tokyo, which manages about $300 million in assets.
“It’s good for Toyota.”
Uchiyamada, 66, led Toyota’s development of the Prius -- the world’s best-selling gasoline-electric car -- before he was promoted to executive vice president in 2005.
He became vice chairman of Toyota’s board in June 2012.
Uchiyamada graduated from Nagoya University in 1969 with a degree in applied physics and joined Toyota the same year, according to the company’s website.
Atsushi Niimi, who managed production and dealt with supply chain interruption after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and Shinichi Sasaki, who was in charge of quality control when Toyota had the massive recall in 2009, and Yukitoshi Funo, who looked after Toyota’s business in Asia, will step down as executive vice presidents.
Yasumori Ihara, 61, senior managing officer in charge of logistics and purchasing, and Seiichi Sudo, president of Toyota Motor Kyushu Inc. will be promoted to executive vice presidents.
The new appointments will come into effect after the annual general shareholders’ meeting in June.
Cho, 76, was president of Toyota from 1996 to 2005 before becoming chairman in 2006.
He will become honorary chairman. Uchiyamada, currently vice chairman at Toyota, may also become vice chairman of the Keidanren, Japan’s largest business lobbying group, Nikkei said in January. - Bloomberg News