Takanobu Ito announced plans to step down as President and CEO of Honda Motor Co. He named Takahiro Hachigo, who currently heads the carmaker’s r&d, purchasing and production in China, as his successor. Hachigo will commence on his new role as president and chief executive. In a statement, Honda said Hachigo’s appointment will be confirmed during the carmaker’s annual shareholders’ meeting that month.
Honda named Ito as its CEO in 2009. Since then, Ito has been leading a carmaker beset by a number of challenges like the 2011 Japanese earthquake-tsunami disasters; a period when a strong yen eat on the carmaker’s profit; and a global recall of millions of vehicles fitted with possibly defective Takata airbags tied to six deaths.
No thanks to a series of recalls in Japan, Ito was forced to delay several product launches and overhaul the carmaker’s r&d strategy. The reforms that Ito has introduced are just beginning to take shape, and Hachigo vowed to continue what his predecessor has started. For instance, Ito retooled the r&d division to slow development, add extra quality checks and cut the onerous workload -- all just disclosed in 2014.
Also currently underway is Ito’s plans to delegate power and responsibility to six global hubs for local output and r&d. Hachigo’s appointment to become Honda’s top man means naming an executive boasting of ample international experience in the United States, Europe and China.
“I believe this is a good opportunity to revamp our entire operations,” Ito remarked, adding that he chose Hachigo as he was a key player in setting up the six regional hubs. Ito said that Honda is ready to make a “huge leap forward” this year.
Ito’s exit from Honda came as a surprise partly since his reforms were just gaining traction and a number of observers thought he would remain on his post to see his make sure that his projects goes through.