Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, is leaving his position as president and CEO of Toyota to become its chairman, the automaker announced on Thursday.
His successor has been named as Koji Sato, the current chief of Lexus and chief of Gazoo, the official motorsports department of Toyota and Lexus.
Toyota’s current chairman, Takeshi Uchiyamada, will remain as a board member after Toyoda takes over as chairman.
The changes are effective April 1.
Toyoda led Toyota since 2009, during which time he managed to inject some much-needed vitality into the automaker’s designs and sportiness into its engineering. An avid racer himself, Toyoda also grew Toyota’s motorsports presence, particularly at the top level of endurance racing.
Toyoda also helped Toyota launch its first volume electric vehicles in the form of the new BZ series, despite having a continued reluctance to fully embrace EVs, unlike the leaders of some other automakers.
Though the overarching strategy at Toyota isn’t expected to change much under Sato’s reign, especially with Toyoda serving as chairman, the company could make a stronger push toward EVs. While at Lexus, Sato committed to offering an EV option in each segment the brand competes in by 2030. Lexus also plans to have zero-emission vehicles, which includes fuel cell-electric vehicles, account for 100% of its sales in the U.S., Europe, and China by 2030, and the rest of the world by 2035.
Sato first joined Toyota in 1992, and worked his way up to become chief engineer at Lexus in 2016. He became the head of Lexus, as well as Gazoo, in 2020.
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