JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Honda CEO Ito to step down, replaced by low-profile engineer

Monday, February 23, 2015, 16:15 GMT+7
Honda CEO Ito to step down, replaced by low-profile engineer
Honda Motor Co's outgoing President and Chief Executive Officer Takanobu Ito attends a news conference at the company's headquarters in Tokyo February 23, 2015. Ito will step down in late June after six years in the top post and be succeeded by Managing Officer Takahiro Hachigo, a low-profile engineer with global experience, the company said in a surprise announcement on Monday.

TOKYO, Feb 23 – Honda Motor Co Chief Executive Takanobu Ito will step down in late June after six years in the top post and be succeeded by Managing Officer Takahiro Hachigo, a low-profile engineer with global experience, the company said in a surprise announcement on Monday.

Japan's No.3 automaker has hit a rough patch over the past year with quality problems that have led to multiple recalls of its popular Fit hybrid subcompact, which Ito conceded earlier this month could have been caused at least in part by an aggressive sales target.

Such self-inflicted setbacks had been compounded by multi-million-vehicle recalls to replace air bag inflators made by top supplier Takata Corp that have so far been linked to six deaths, all in Honda cars.

For the past three years, Ito, 61, a feisty former supercar engineer, has shaken up Honda's decades-old, tightly-knit supply chain as the automaker sought to trim costs and find more cutting-edge technologies. That has predictably rankled local suppliers, and some retired Honda executives manoeuvred to have Ito removed, sources have told Reuters.

"I think this move is an attempt by Honda to tread a different course, with someone who upholds harmony," said Takaki Nakanishi, a veteran auto analyst and CEO of Nakanishi Research Institute.

A former senior Honda official said he was surprised by Monday's announcement. Hachigo had been widely expected to join Honda's board, but "like many inside Honda, I'd thought Ito was ready to continue as CEO at least for another term."

The former official said he thought Ito's resignation was his own decision.

Hachigo, who worked on the popular U.S. Odyssey minivan and CR-V crossover, would skip several ranks to become CEO after Honda's annual shareholders' meeting in late June. He joined the company in 1982 with a career spanning several countries including the United States, Britain and China. He is currently Vice President of Honda's R&D arm in China.

Ito, 61, became CEO in 2009 as the auto industry was licking its wounds from a crushing global financial crisis. The ensuing years were no easier, as a disappointing launch of the Civic model caused many to question whether Honda had lost its edge. Natural disasters in Japan and Thailand also hit production and profits hard.

Ito will remain on the board and become an adviser to Honda.

Ito and Hachigo were due to hold a news conference in Tokyo at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT). 

Reuters

More

Read more

;

Photos

VIDEOS

Experience summer sand-boarding in Mui Ne

Sand-boarding, a popular activity amongst local children in the coastal tourism town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam, is attracting hundreds of tourists to the Red Sand Dunes

Young maple trees given better protection as Hanoi enters rainy season

The trees are currently growing well, with green leaves and healthy branches.

Hunting skinks for food in southern Vietnam

Skink meat is known to be soft, tasty, and highly nutritious.

Vietnamese-made app allows people to grow real veggies via smartphone

Nguyen Thi Duyen, a young engineer in Hanoi, developed the app and its related services to help busy people create their own veggie gardens.

Chinese tourists hit by Vietnamese over dine and dash

Four Chinese were reportedly injured, with one having a broken arm.

Latest news