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Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda Steps Down, To Be Replaced by Lexus Boss

The Drive logo The Drive 1/26/2023 Jerry Perez
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda Steps Down, To Be Replaced by Lexus Boss © Getty Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda Steps Down, To Be Replaced by Lexus Boss

Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, will be stepping down from his roles as president and CEO of Toyota Motor Company, the automaker confirmed Thursday morning. Toyoda has been at the helm of the company for 14 years and will remain involved as Chairman of the Board of Directors moving forward.

Koji Sato, who has served in many roles at the automaker including Lexus International President, Chief Branding Officer, Gazoo Racing Company President, and Toyota Operating Officer, will replace him effective April 1.

Toyota did not make public any specific reasons for the major executive shakeup, and likely never will. However, reports from Nikkei and Reuters attribute the decision to the automaker's slow response to a rapid-changing industry. Specifically, the adoption of electric vehicles.

The industry has undergone a major change over the last five years, something that was further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the many logistical changes it caused. Sixty-six-year-old Toyoda praised his successor Sato, 53, for loving cars while reiterating the importance of promoting young talent.

"Sato is a man who has worked hard to master Toyota's philosophy, techniques and manners in the field of car manufacturing," Toyoda said, according to Nikkei. "[He] loves cars."

"In order to promote change in an age when the right answers are not known, it is necessary for the top management to continue to be on the frontlines themselves. To do so, physical strength, energy, and passion are essential. I think being young is a big attraction in itself."

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