Toyoda to step down as Toyota CEO, passes torch to Lexus President
From left to right: Akio Toyoda, Koji Sato, and Takeshi Uchiyamada. Photo courtesy of Toyota

Toyoda to step down as Toyota CEO, passes torch to Lexus President

Japan’s largest automaker Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced today that it intends to implement changes to its executive structure effective April 1, 2023.

Takeshi Uchiyamada will resign from his post as chairman of the Board of Directors. Akio Toyoda, 66, will be appointed the new chairman.

Lexus President Koji Sato, 53, will succeed Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota Motor founder Kiichiro Toyoda, as the new president and chief executive officer (CEO). Lexus is the luxury vehicle division of Toyota.

Toyoda became CEO in 2009 and oversaw the company’s rise to become the world’s No. 1 automaker. He explained that the main reason why he is passing the torch to the younger generation now is because Uchiyamada has decided to step down from his position.

Uchiyamada, who led the development of Toyota’s hugely popular hybrid vehicle model Prius, said he has been seeking the right time to make a transition to the younger generation.

“The mission of the new team is to fully change Toyota into a mobility company,” Toyoda said. “We believe that the best way to advance Toyota’s transformation further is for me to support the new president as chairman.”

“I myself am a carmaker no matter how far I go. There are changes that I was able to make because I’m a carmaker, but I cannot go beyond being a carmaker. I think that is my limitation,” Toyoda added.

Toyoda said that he has chosen Sato as the new CEO because Sato has been eager to absorb Toyota’s philosophy and technology. He also cited his youth as a key reason.

“To promote change in an age where the right answers are unclear, it is necessary for the top management itself to continue to be on the front lines,” Toyoda said.

Sato graduated from Waseda University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in March 1992, and joined  Toyota Motor Corporation in April of the same year.  In January 2016, he was appointed chief engineer of Lexus International  Co. In April 2017, he was promoted to executive general manager and became in charge of Lexus International Co. In January 2019, he became executive vice  president of Lexus International Co.  In January 2020, he was promoted to operating officer and became president of  Lexus International Co. In September 2020, he was appointed president of  GAZOO Racing Company.  In January 2021, he was promoted to operating officer and appointed chief  branding officer.

The formal appointment of members of the Board of Directors will be formalized after approval at the 119th Ordinary General Shareholders' Meeting.