Toyoda to step down as Toyota president

Toyoda to step down as Toyota president

TokYO Toyota Motor Corp 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 be the new CEO, Toyota said. Representative director Takeshi Uchiyamada will drop his chairmanship.

The issue of who will take over for Toyoda, the 66-year-old grandson of the company's founder, has become a focus for investors.

During his more than a decade in the top, Toyoda presided over the carmaker during a period of increased 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 came under fire from environmental investors and groups for their 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.