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Takanobu Ito Steps Down as Honda CEO

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/23/2015 Jason Udy

Honda announced a major shift in management this week. Takanobu Ito will step down as Honda’s president and chief executive officer in June, and will be succeeded by Takahiro Hachigo. Ito will remain on the Honda board of directors as an advisor. Currently serving as the company’s managing officer, Hachigo will become senior managing officer on April 1, and will take over Ito’s current roles in late June.

The change in management will be finalized after a board decision in late June that will take place after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

Ito joined Honda in 1978 in the automaker’s research and development department as a chassis design engineer. Career highlights include his role as head of development of the original Acura NSX coupe’s aluminum chassis, an appointment to the company’s board of directors in 2000, and his time as president and director of Honda R&D. He took his current position in June 2009.

The reasons behind the departure remain vague, although it has been typical of Honda CEOs to serve around six years. According to Automotive News, Ito said as he departed: “In 2015, Honda is ready to make a huge leap forward. To do this, I believe, Honda needs to overcome challenges under a new, younger leader as a team.”

Despite recent recalls of millions of vehicles for faulty Takata airbags (an issue affecting multiple automakers) and several recalls in the company’s home market, including the Honda Fit Hybrid, Ito’s six-year tenure as president and CEO has had many highlights. Ito helped the company through fluctuating currency exchange rates, the most recent economic recession, the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and flooding in Thailand that affected production. Other highlights of Ito’s tenure as president and CEO include new production facilities in Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia, India, and China as well as revamping the company’s R&D and quality control process.

Takanubo Ito© Provided by MotorTrend Takanubo Ito

Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology, the FCV fuel cell vehicle, the S660, Civic Type R, and the new NSX hybrid were also developed under Ito's tenure. Additionally, Ito oversaw the company’s return to Formula 1 and great strides in the development of the HondaJet aircraft.

Honda's soon-to-be CEO also has a long history with the company. In 1982, Hachigo joined the automaker in its research and development division as a chassis design engineer like Ito. Highlights of his career include leading development of the Odyssey minivan for the U.S. market in 1999 as well as the second-generation CR-V in 2001. Hachigo served as senior vice president of Honda R&D Americas from April 2004 to March 2006. After several other positions within the company including vice president of Honda Motor China, Hachigo arrived to his current position as managing officer of Honda.

Source: Honda, Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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