Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) said on Thursday that Akio Toyoda will step down as president and chief executive to become chairman from April 1, and hand over the helm of Japan’s biggest automaker to the company’s top branding officer.
Kouji Sato will become the new CEO, Toyota said. Representative director Takeshi Uchiyamada will drop his chairman title.
The issue of who will take over for Toyoda, the 66-year-old grandson of the company’s founder, has increasingly been a focus for investors.
During his more than a decade at the top, Toyoda presided over the carmaker during a period of intense change in the auto industry and rising uncertainty about how legacy automakers such as Toyota can fend off the challenge from newer – and often nimbler – challengers such as Tesla.
During his time, Toyota also came under fire from environmental investors and groups for what they said was a reluctance to embrace electric vehicles.
The Japanese automaker was holding a news conference at 4 p.m. (0700) to explain the leadership reshuffle.
At the shareholder meeting in June last year, Toyoda said he was “thinking about timing and the selection of a successor” when asked about succession planning.