Tomohiko Kawanabe has been appointed as the new head of Honda Motor Co.'s r&d subsidiary, the position vacated by President and CEO Takanobu Ito.
Starting April 1, Kawanabe will function as president and director of Honda R&D Co. Kawanabe has been with Honda for the past 33 years. Last June, Ito took over as president of Honda Motor.
Since then, he has concurrently held the posts of president of Honda Motor Co. and president of Honda R&D. Ito has headed Honda R&D since 2003.
He now leaves that job to focus on the parent company. This development makes it likely that 57-year-old Kawanabe is in line for the executive position.
Historically, Honda presidents honed their skills at the development subsidiary. Notably, previous President Takeo Fukui was head of the operation in 1998.
Meanwhile, Ito simultaneously headed Honda Motor and Honda R&D, stating that he aims to consolidate control and facilitate communication and decision making. However, there were no expectations that Ito would hold both positions long.
Within the past year, Ito has saved money by closing down several r&d projects such as Honda's V-8 engine program. Instead, Ito refocused its development on environmentally friendly drivetrains.