Wed, Jan 21, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Toyota names family heir president

INSIDE JOB: Fifty-two-year old Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the auto company’s founder, became a board member in 2000 and executive vice president in 2005

AFP , TOKYO

Toyota Motor vice president Akio Toyoda, a grandson of Toyota Motor founder Kiichiro Toyoda, poses next to a car at the Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka prefecture, west of Tokyo on Oct. 4, 2007.

PHOTO: AFP

Toyota Motor yesterday named Akio Toyoda as its new president, turning to the grandson of its founder to rescue the company from its biggest ever crisis.

Toyoda, currently an executive vice president, will take the reins of Japan’s biggest automaker in June, replacing Katsuaki Watanabe, who will become vice chairman. Fujio Cho will keep the post of chairman.

Toyoda, 52, has long been groomed for the top job. He will be the first member of the founding family in 14 years to become president, taking over at a crucial time for the company.

Toyota is famed worldwide for its efficient production methods but expects its first-ever operating loss this financial year due to the economic crisis.

Toyota hopes that the founding family scion can unite the company during the current crisis, which is forcing it to slash jobs and production, said Mamoru Kato, an auto analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

“The appointment will also promote the rejuvenation of the company, enabling management to rebuild its growth strategy. He is likely to correct the company’s expansion policy and draw up a new path to follow,” Kato said.

The automaker’s new president is the grandson of Kiichiro Toyoda — who founded the automaker in 1937 — and the son of former president Shoichiro Toyoda.

Akio Toyoda became a board member in 2000 and was made an executive vice president in 2005, taking charge of Japanese sales and overseas operations.

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