Taking the Presidential reigns from Katsuaki Watanabe in 2009, Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder, has just announced he will be stepping aside after 14 years. Being a lover of motor sports and racing, he felt that Toyota’s lineup lacked any spirit at the time. Later in 2009, the first concept that would eventually lead to the production ScionFR-S/Toyota 86 was revealed, thus starting the journey that ushered fun back into the brand. Cars like the Toyota 86 and the Lexus RC F eventually led to masterpieces like the Toyota GR Corolla and Lexus LC. The TNGA platform that debuted on the 2015 Prius injected better driving dynamics into all of the subsequent models that received this new architecture over the years. In 2023, Toyota is now one of the top sellers of performance cars in the U.S., all while still remaining the leader in hybrid technology. When it comes to the EV movement, they haven’t exactly been on top of their game.
Toyoda said in an interview with The Financial Times, “Because of my strong passion for cars, I am an old-fashioned person in regards to digitalisation, electric vehicles, and connected cars…I cannot go beyond being a car guy, and that is my limitation.” Essentially, Toyoda was hesitant about diving head-first into the EV game, but in an effort to please stakeholders and shifting consumer expectations, he decided it was best if he moved out of the way for younger minds to make the next move for the company. He won’t leave Toyota completely, moving to serve as Chairman of the Board, replacing Takeshi Uchiyamada who is retiring this year. Who will replace the departing President of Toyota? Lexus and Gazoo Racing’s President, Koji Sato – one more confirmation that the soul of the world’s largest company should remain intact with this transition of power.
More on Akio Toyoda’s career move here.