Skip to main content

There is big news coming from automotive titan Toyota. For the last 14 years, one man, Akio Toyoda, has led the automaker to incredible success as CEO. But earlier this year, news broke that Toyoda planned to step down from his leadership role. 

Global Toyota enthusiasts are wondering what this leadership transition might mean for their favorite car brand. And when you learn who’s taking Toyoda’s place as CEO, you might be excited about the future of Toyota. Here’s what we know about this massive leadership change and predictions for Toyota.

A Toyota logo on a sign.
Toyota logo | Nathan Stirk via Getty Images

Famed Akio Toyoda is stepping down

The Toyota Motor Company has certainly enjoyed automotive sales and market share success over the years. And when an automaker performs well, even through adversity during the pandemic and supply chain complications, it’s usually the result of a strong leader at the helm and as CEO.

For the last 14 years, Akio Toyoda has commanded this automaker’s ship. And he’s a legend within the industry.

But all that’s changing now. Akio Toyoda, who also happens to be the grandson of Toyota’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, is stepping away from his role as CEO of the Toyota Motor Company. He won’t be leaving the company, though. Toyota confirmed that he’d be instead assuming the role of Chairman of the Board at Toyota.

The question remains. With Toyoda stepping aside, who will be stepping in to fill those massive shoes?

Who’s replacing Toyoda?

The Drive shared additional information about the changing of the guard happening at Toyota. Akio Toyoda’s replacement will be Koji Sato, and that’s a name you might already know well.

Sato has worn many hats within the Toyota ecosystem as the president of Lexus International, chief branding officer, Toyota operating officer, and Gazoo Racing Company president.

While no official statements behind the changes in leadership have been specifically cited, it might be in response to the emerging EV market. Critics say Toyota has been sluggish in responding to the growing EV segment and mass-electrification movement within the industry. And Toyota believes Sato is just the leader for the future.

The 66-year-old Sato is known as a lover of all things cars. And Toyota said in order for their brand to “promote change in an age,” especially today “when the right answers aren’t known,” it’s imperative that top management be immersed in the process.

Sato has worked in enough arenas to know everything about Toyota’s mission, techniques, and philosophies, making him a great candidate to chaperone Toyota into this new dynamic automotive industry.

Where Toyota is headed under new leadership

Don’t let leadership change scare you. Toyota is still very much at the top of its game and the automotive industry, even if it has been slow to respond to the recent EV movement. According to Toyota, there are plenty of new vehicles to get excited about on the immediate horizon, including the 2023 Corolla Hybrid, the all-electric 2023 bZ4X, the 2023 Prius, the 2024 Grand Highlander, and more.

A whole fleet of electric, hybrid, and PHEV options are also coming. And in true Toyota fashion, you’ll still enjoy affordable, reliable, and award-winning vehicles in the years to come. There might be a new captain steering the Toyota ship. But it’s clear the automaking giant isn’t going anywhere but upward and forward. And that’s an exciting prospect for Toyota and consumers alike.

Sometimes, when companies change out pivotal leadership roles, consumers assume there’s potential for their favorite brands to lose momentum. Akio Toyoda may be stepping down. But this change, with Koji Sato stepping in, only makes Toyota’s future look even more promising.


J.D. Power Puts Any Toyota Reliability Questions to Rest