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Toyota is one of the biggest names in the automotive industry. With such a big name to uphold, there needs to be a CEO that is best equipped to push the company forward. Akio Toyoda has been the head of the company since 2009 and is the grandson of the company’s founder. Over the past few years, Toyota has slowly adopted the new industry demand for electric vehicles. Thankfully for Toyota, they have planned to replace Akio already for a seamless transition.

Why is Akio Toyoda stepping down?

Akio Toyoda standing
Akio Toyoda | Getty Images

Simply put, Akio Toyoda wants to make way for the new generation of electrification. To do so, he has taken a step back to allow the younger generation to spearhead that movement. Toyoda, the 66-year-old President and CEO of the company, described his reasoning through a translated webcast. “Because of my strong passion for cars, I am an old-fashioned person in regards to digitalization, electric vehicles, and connected cars,” Toyoda said. “I cannot go beyond being a car guy, and that is my limitation.”

Who will replace Akio Toyoda as CEO?

Akio Toyoda Toyota GR
Akio Toyoda | Getty Images

The structure change of Toyota stems from Takeshi Uchiyamada stepping down as chairman of the company’s board of directors. Toyoda took this opportunity to step back, be on the board of directors, and make way for the new CEO. Toyota will appoint Koji Sato, head of Lexus and GAZOO racing since 2020, as the company’s new CEO. The changeover will happen on April 1st, 2023. Many industry analysts expressed surprise at Toyota’s decision, as reported by Reuters. However, Tsutomu Yamada explained to Fortune that the handover to Sato could “accelerate Toyota’s generation change” and bring Toyota “a faster decision-making process, having suffered from a delayed decision-making such as a launch timing of EVs.”

What has Akio Toyoda done for Toyota?

Akio Toyoda GR Yaris
Akio Toyoda | Getty Images

Akio Toyoda has been the President and CEO of the company since 2009. During his time at Toyota, Akio has pushed the direction of the company toward more efficient vehicles. Symbolized by the success of the Toyota Prius, Toyoda is credited with making the company a world leader in energy-efficient vehicles. However, although he has created this success, Toyoda realizes how slow the adoption has been towards the industry’s recent move towards full electrification.

Toyoda is not only a man in a business suit but also a race suit. Toyoda has been at the forefront of some of the companies racing and vehicle development as a driver himself. Using the pseudonym “Morizo Kinoshita,” Toyoda entered the 2009 24-Hour Nurburgring race placing 87th overall and fourth in his class with his LF-A Prototype. During the Toyota GR Yaris development, Toyoda (as Morizo) was a test driver. Unfortunately, “Morizo” crashed the first test car at a mid-winter drive at the Hokkaido test track. Upon exiting the vehicle, he explained he “didn’t like the feel of it.” Since its release, Toyoda continues to campaign the car in races.

What does the future hold for Toyota?

With Akio Toyoda’s decision to step down and have Sato take his place, Toyota will hopefully push towards its new goals. Responding to companies like Tesla and General Motors pushing their fully electric vehicles is essential for Toyota to keep investors happy. The guidance and younger perspective brought by Sato will hopefully bring the brand up to speed, all while producing incredible vehicles along the way.


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