Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) for nearly 14 years, will step down from his top role in April to become chairman and hand the reins to the company’s chief brand officer.
Here’s a timeline of key events and milestones in Toyota’s history under Toyoda, the 66-year-old grandson of the company’s founder.
“Crisis Trus Crisis”
In June 2009, Toyoda became chairman of the company, which was founded by his grandfather Kiichiro in 1937, replacing Katsuki Watanabe. Akio was the first member of the Toyoda family to take command after 1995.
His appointment came as the world’s most profitable and valuable automaker, worth $115 billion at the time, posted its first loss in decades, after the global financial crisis forced it to idle many of its factories. which were built during a decade of continuous expansion.
He vowed to lead the company out of its worst recession in history, bring more transparency to its sprawling corporate culture and “back to basics” of building cars that make people happy.
Just six months later, the company was plunged into its worst quality crisis in decades. Toyota has faced a barrage of criticism for its slow response to the recall of millions of cars in the United States for a faulty accelerator.
The security crisis, which forced Toyoda to testify before Congress in 2010, threatened Toyota’s reputation and its continued success in its most profitable market.
Toyoda said on Thursday that his term began with “crisis after crisis”.
In the following years, he had to deal with the disturbances caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan.
Adoption Slow EV
During more than a decade at the helm, Toyoda has presided over the automaker through a period of rapid change in the auto industry and growing uncertainty about how legacy automakers like Toyota can rise to the challenge of tough times. . Like Tesla. (TSLA.O).
Toyota has said that fossil fuels, not internal combustion engines, are the problem. In addition to the hybrids it popularized two decades ago with the Prius, it also champions hydrogen technology, though it hasn’t yet caught on in the way of battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Toyoda has defended its electric vehicle development strategy and plans, which have been criticized by some environmental groups and investors who want the company to move faster on BEV adoption.
“Like the fully autonomous cars we were all supposed to drive now, it’s going to take longer for BEVs to become mainstream than the media let on,” Toyoda told dealers in the United States in late 2020.
He said at the time that “playing to win means playing all the cards in the deck, not just some. So that’s our strategy and we’re sticking to it.”
Toyoda likened the automaker to a “department store” that sells a variety of vehicles to customers with different needs, adding that its corporate vision is “to provide freedom of mobility for all … and we Don’t want to be left behind either.”
However, his “department store” approach came at a high cost.
Tesla earned $9,000 in net profit per vehicle in the most recent quarter, more than seven times Toyota’s comparable figure in the third quarter.