TOKYO – The person changing Akio Toyoda as the brand new CEO of Toyota Motor Corp. is a cosmopolitan car-guy engineer with a watch for luxurious and a thirst for pace.
In actual fact, in some ways Koji Sato is a mini-me model of his longtime mentor.
As the pinnacle of the Lexus premium model and Gazoo Racing motorsports division, Sato’s mission was to interrupt the boring outdated Toyota mildew by creating “cool,” trendy, fun-to-drive vehicles. He succeeded by channeling Toyoda’s encouragement to take dangers and stir issues up.
“President Toyoda all the time informed us it is OK to fail,” Sato mentioned after being tapped as the following CEO from April 1. “Should you by no means take a look at your limits, then new creations are by no means born.”
Sato’s new problem might be making use of that mindset to the entire firm.
He’s tasked with not solely navigating a largely hidebound legacy metal-bender by way of an trade underneath siege by electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity, however with reworking the world’s largest automaker right into a “mobility firm,” utilizing no matter implies that entails.
Toyoda, 66, mentioned Sato’s “youth” — he’s 53 — will assist write the following chapter of Toyota historical past.
“The brand new group underneath incoming President Sato has a mission to rework Toyota right into a mobility firm,” Toyoda mentioned in saying the appointment on Thursday. “He has youth and like-minded colleagues. I anticipate this new group to transcend the bounds that I can not break by way of.”
Toyoda took the helm in 2009 and steered his household’s namesake firm by way of a protracted interval of unprecedented tumult and hovering prosperity.
Sato, as the primary non-family CEO in additional than a decade, may preserve a hand on the wheel by way of 2030, a stretch that guarantees fast and disruptive upheaval for your entire auto trade. Whether or not he adapts and delivers, or flounders, may have a pivotal affect on Toyota, analysts say.
“There are plenty of difficult points to deal with over the following decade; there’s going to be plenty of change,” mentioned Christopher Richter, lead Asia auto analyst at CLSA in Tokyo. “Toyota is ranging from an important base, however Mr. Sato definitely has his work minimize out for him.”