Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has announced his plan to step aside effective April 1st. He will be replaced by Koji Sato, who currently heads the Lexus and Gazoo Racing divisions.
Toyoda, who is also the president of the Japanese automobile behemoth, is well-known for his sentiments against electric vehicles. His time in charge of the company saw it fail to move from a massive player in the hybrid category to a respected name in purely electric cars. Instead, Toyota pursued alternative fuels, including hydrogen.
Toyoda once described himself as old-fashioned as regards electric vehicles, digitalization, and connected cars. Perhaps the ascension of a younger CEO is what the brand needs to focus more on electric cars.
Toyoda, who is the grandson of the company founder, will become the chairman of the board of directors. He became the CEO in 2009.
Sato’s Lexus is the luxury arm of Toyota. His other division, Gazoo Racing, developed high-performance cars, including the GR Supra and GR Corolla.
Toyota’s first dedicated EV, the bZ4X, had a lackluster launch. The first batches were recalled for faulty wheel hub bolts, with sales stopped at a point. The electric crossover also struggles to charge in cold temperatures.
Sato will be charged with piloting Toyota’s $35 billion investment in electric vehicles.