Toyota Europe chief executive Didier Leroy will leave the unit to become Toyota Motor Corp.’s first non-Japanese executive vice president and the second non-Japanese executive on its 12-member board. His impending promotion comes after giving a life to Toyota’s once-bleeding European operations. When Leroy was named as top honcho of Toyota’s operations in Europe in July 2010, the unit had been financially bleeding for years.
He targeted to return the unit to black in the fiscal year 2013-2014, but was able to achieve it a year ahead of schedule. For the first nine months of Toyota’s current fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, Toyota Europe posted a 54-percent surge in operating profit to JPY66.4 billion (EUR519 million).
“We’ve had quite a big improvement in terms of return on sales and our profitability,” Leroy told Automotive News Europe in an interview at the Geneva auto show. He remarked that for the period, Toyota Europe’s operating margin was 3.1 percent – a large improvement over the 2.1-percent margin in the same period a year ago.
In contrast, the European units of General Motors and Ford each posted over $1 billion in losses in 2014. As Leroy, his has been “sustainable growth” – not chasing market share at the expense of profit. For the next fiscal year, he is expecting Toyota Europe to post another profit, and even told his sales team to look for a way not to lose money in the crisis-hit Russia.
In the first two months of 2015, Toyota posted a 29-percent drop in sales to 14,292 in a Russian market that fell 32 percent to 243,826 vehicles.
Under Leroy’s wings, Toyota and Lexus sales surged for four straight years and allowed them to hike their market share to 4.8 percent in 2014. The carmaker has been able to charge a small premium thanks to its focus on hybrids.