Tokyo – Koji Sato named future CEO of Japan’s top automaker on Thursday Toyota Motor Corporationis an engineer with a background in diesel engines tasked with navigating the company’s transition to clean energy.
Sato, who is currently CEO of Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus, will succeed Akio Toyoda as CEO of Toyota on April 1.
Under Toyoda, automakers have followed a slower approach to electric vehicles, arguing that hybrid technology pioneered in the Prius will remain important, along with investments in hydrogen.
Sato studied diesel engine combustion at university and joined Toyota because he wanted to “create the future of diesel engines and contribute to society,” according to an interview on the website of Toyota’s motor sports brand “Gazoo.”
The 53-year-old oversaw the creation of Lexus’ first fully electric model, but also talks about keeping other options open for powering the vehicle.
He spoke about the potential of hydrogen in Thailand last year. There, Toyoda himself entered a race for a hydrogen-powered Toyota. vehicle In an endurance race, according to the Nikkan Yomiuri.
Sato said in the report that hydrogen vehicles “will not be an immediate replacement for electric vehicles, but people are aware that there are other options available when the growth of EVs eventually plateaus.” It is good to know,” he said.
Started by Sato vehicleBased on his profile on Toyota’s website before joining Toyota in 1992 and being promoted to Chief Engineer at Lexus International in 2016.
“The industry itself is facing a once-in-a-century turmoil and there are many unknowns to navigate,” said a former Toyota manager who now consults on the company’s pioneering lean management techniques. says John Shook, who is doing “You can imagine that Akio thought now was the time to transition so that his successor could navigate the uncertainty ahead.”
Sato has served as President of Lexus International and Gazoo Racing Company since 2020.
Christopher Richter, deputy head of Japan research at investment group CLSA, previously served as an executive officer at Toyota, and his appointment as chief branding officer in January 2021 is good news for the company in a changing industry. He said it was.
“Having someone who is sensitive to the need to develop the brand is even more important now that many things that drive brand change are heading into the EV era,” Richter said.
“vehicle Businesses used to be the difference between life and death in the engine. Change to a different type of car. Building our brand around this new type of architecture, this new type of drive (…) is key,” he added.
In his spare time, he visits temples in Kyoto and practices Japanese tea ceremony, according to his profile on Gazoo’s website. He drives a Toyota Supra that he inherited from his father-in-law.
One of the main reasons Sato was chosen as successor was his love for manufacturing. vehicleToyoda said in an official announcement broadcast online.
That passion was evident in a short video clip released in 2021. There, Sato sits next to Toyota, test-driving a Toyota Lexus. As Toyoda excitedly accelerates and honks the whoops, Sato smiles broadly, sometimes laughing, unable to contain his joy.