Toyota's future CEO describes management team bullish on electric vehicles

Toyota’s future CEO describes management team bullish on electric vehicles

TOKYO (AP) — Koji Sato, who was named the next president of Japan’s top automaker Toyota, introduced a leadership team on Monday that he says will campaign aggressively on electric vehicles.

Sato stressed that “electrification” is a key theme for his team and promised to develop an all-new, next-generation electric vehicle by 2026.

It will be a Lexus, while Toyota Motor Corp. will also bolster all electric vehicle model offerings, Sato said.

“Lexus will lead the way,” he told reporters at a hastily called news conference in Tokyo. “I see myself as the captain of the football team.”

In a presentation, Sato listed the various leaders, each with different responsibilities, such as carbon neutrality, security technology, as well as overseeing regions like North America and Asia.

The selection of Sato, currently Toyota’s chief brand officer, as the next chief executive was announced last month. The new management takes over on April 1.

Toyota, which makes the hybrid Prius and Camry sedan, touted the move as an effort to keep abreast of social changes like electrification. At times it has been considered to lag behind its rivals in electric vehicles.

The company’s success with hybrids, which have both a battery and a gasoline engine, and hydrogen fuel cells may be part of the reason for this perception.

Sato reiterated that view, noting that Toyota intends to reduce emissions with already popular models. Most vehicles on the roads today run on gasoline, he noted.

Toyota officials have always said they have BEV technology, which stands for “battery electric vehicles,” or pure EVs. But that market has so far been dominated by Tesla, its Japanese rival Nissan and China’s BYD.

“We worked on the development of BEV, but the perception may not have reflected that as well,” he said.

Toyota will also make smarter, safer and more fun cars, Sato said, which means they’ll connect to the net and offer other entertainment features.

With his management reshuffle, Toyota CEO and Chairman Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, becomes its chairman. Toyoda did not appear during Monday’s announcement.

Sato also oversaw Lexus’ luxury division and Toyota’s motor racing. The appointments still need to be approved by shareholders, scheduled for the company’s next general meeting.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *