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Koji Sato, current head of Lexus International and Gazoo Racing Company, will be taking over as President and CEO of Toyota.

28 Jan 2023 | International News : Japan

Leadership changes are underway for one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world.

In what is being widely described as a surprise announcement that was hosted on the Toyota Times channel, Akio Toyoda, the 66-year old CEO and President of the board of Directors of Toyota, revealed that he would be stepping down from a position he has held for 13 years.

Toyota has long been criticised for being slow to embrace electrification, despite rolling out the Prius as early as 1997
In his place, effective from 1 April 2023, will be Koji Sato, current President of Lexus International, as well as head honcho of the famed Gazoo Racing Company, from which we have products including the widely acclaimed Toyota Supra and GR Yaris, amongst others.

Die-hard petrolheads need not get their hopes up, however, if Lexus' recent moves under Sato are any clue as to what could come next for Toyota.

The premium marque has recently embarked on a fresh electrified product offensive under its 'Lexus Electrified' strategy, which has already seen stunning concepts from the LF-30 Electrified to the more recent Lexus Electrified Sport, on top of production vehicles including the Lexus RZ450e that was recently showcased here in Singapore at the 2023 Motor Show.

We think it would not be unreasonable to see this leadership shuffle lead to a fresh push towards electrified products from Toyota, especially if Sato hopes to squelch the frequently levied criticism against Toyoda's leadership about Toyota's slow embrace of electrification.

The leadership of Koji Sato saw the Lexus brand make significant headways into the world of all-electric mobility, this RZ450e included
Toyota has recently found itself trailing behind new upstarts such as Tesla in the race for market share in the battery-electric market, despite its long history with electrified products. The firm launched its first hybrid model, the Prius, as far back as 1997 (read about the latest Prius here).

On a separate note, it is worth nothing that Akio Toyoda also won't be leaving the firm. Instead, Toyoda will now take the role of Chairman of the board of Directors at Toyota, a post formerly held by Takeshi Uchiyamada. Uchiyamada, widely regarded as the father of the Toyota Prius, will now serve as a member of the board.

The announcement of these changes, made via an interview on the Toyota Times channel, took on a format that more closely resembled a talk show than a strait-laced corporate announcement. During this announcement, Sato stated that his goal was to become a President who "continues to make cars."

His priorities included the continued development of cars that were "fun to drive", that supported mobility, and, perhaps most comforting for the majority of us still looking for more affordable cars in an electric age, he also expressed hope to "preserve the essential value of the car and propose new forms of mobility."

For now, we think it is quite safe to say that demand for those special Morizo Edition versions of the GR Corolla are about to go through the roof.

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