Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda resigns

Akio Toyoda, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corp.

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Toyota engine‘s President and Chief Executive, Akio Toyoda, will step down from his post on April 1 to be succeeded by current Chief Branding Officer Koji Sato, the Japanese automaker announced on Thursday.

Sato, 53, has headed the Toyota Lexus division and racing company GAZOO since 2020.

Toyoda will become the new CEO, while current CEO Takeshi Uchiyamada will remain on the board.

Toyoda, 66, is the grandson of the automaker’s founder and has served as CEO since June 2009.

“I thought the best way to drive Toyota’s transformation would be for me to become chairman to support a new president, and that led to today’s decision. Chairman Uchiyamada has long supported me in every possible way,” Toyoda said in a translated webcast.

“Looking back, those 13 years were a time of struggling to survive day by day and I honestly feel that,” he added.

“The current Toyota structural change was triggered by my resignation,” said Uchiyamada, stressing that he had been considering the timing of his retirement “for some time” to make room for a new generation.

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“The foundation for handing over the baton to the next generation has been laid,” he said.

“Cars of the future will continue to develop themselves in the mobility concept. Amidst this, I hope to preserve the essential value of the car and propose new forms of mobility,” Sato said, adding that this represents the new leadership team’s mission.

Tokyo-listed Toyota ended Thursday’s session down 0.63% ahead of the announcement.

Pioneering green automobiles in 1997 with the launch of its hybrid Prius, the company has increasingly resisted criticism over the pace at which it has been pursuing all-electric vehicles, and has embraced newcomers such as Tesla.

In December 2021, it announced plans to produce 30 EV models by 2030. A year later, in December 2022, it said a consortium it leads had secured funding to develop a hydrogen fuel cell pickup truck in the UK

Sato acknowledged on Thursday that Toyota must continue its green efforts: “Energy security, for example, is a major challenge facing the entire planet. And also the pursuit of carbon neutrality will be an example of what we need to work on.”

— CNBC’s Jihye Lee contributed to this story

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Toyoda was referring to the Toyota company when discussing its conversion on the webcast. Sato heads the Toyota Lexus division. A previous version misspelled the department name.

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