Osamu Masuko plans to step down from his post as president of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and be replaced by current Managing Director Tetsuro Aikawa on April 1, 2014, according to a report by the Nikkei business daily. April 1, 2014 marks the start of the new fiscal year for the carmaker.
According to the Nikkei, Masuko is expected to become both chairman and chief executive, while Aikawa will be the carmaker’s new chief operating officer. The CEO and COO posts are newly created roles at Mitsubishi.
In his new role, Masuko will focus on building partnerships with other carmakers. Mitsubishi, however, said in a statement that nothing has been decided. Aikawa is noted for leading the development of minicars like Mitsubishi's eK Wagon and the egg-shaped i runabout.
He started his career at the Japanese carmaker in 1978 and became a member of the board of directors in 2005. He also has experience in local sales and manufacturing.
Since 2011, Aikawa has been leading Mitsubishi's global production division, in charge of overseeing the realignment of the carmaker’s sites in the US and Japan.
The product and manufacturing revamp entailed stopping production of US-only models like the Eclipse, Endeavor and Galant at the carmaker’s Normal site in Illinois and shifting its output to the Outlander Sport, a key model sold by Mitsubishi around the world. U
nder Aikawa, Mitsubishi was able to consolidate its model lineup in Japan and had launched a new mini vehicle joint venture with Nissan Motor Co. at its Mizushima site. "He's a real car guy," Mitsubishi spokeswoman Namie Koketsu said.
In an interview with Automotive News in December, Masuko was wary on the length of his stay with the Mitsubishi, which he joined in 2005 to help bail out. "At that time, I went around all the plants at MMC. Before me, there was, on average, nine different presidents over nine years," Masuko said. [source: automotive news - sub. required]