| TOKYO, March 1
TOKYO, March 1 Toyota Motor Corp has
reduced its number of top positions to speed up decision-making,
as the Japanese automaker works toward a slimmer executive to
better compete in an industry undergoing rapid change.
The move comes as the world's second-ranked automaker by
sales, after Germany's Volkswagen AG, hopes to
quicken decision-making to regain the lead in an industry
increasingly focused on new technologies, including automated
driving and low-emission power units.
Announcing personnel changes for the financial year starting
April, the Japanese automaker on Wednesday said in a statement
it would reduce its board of director positions to nine from 11.
Under the new structure, only President Akio Toyoda and
Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada will remain representative directors
after Toyota cut the number of such posts from six.
The automaker reduced the number of representative directors
to centralise responsibility and accountability for the entire
company, while fewer board directors would speed up executive
decisions, Toyota spokeswoman Kayo Doi told Reuters.
The change comes just a year after Toyota overhauled its
corporate structure to one emphasising product-based management
rather than region-based.
"This structural change is not an answer but an
opportunity," President Toyoda said in the statement.
He said the change was necessary to "allow us to remain
viable in an era in which we are producing and selling 10
million vehicles a year."
Toyota's scale affords benefits such as lower procurement
and production costs. But it also raises quality-control risks,
as the automaker experienced in the early 2000s when driver-side
floor mats led to unintentional acceleration in some vehicles.
Toyoda, who has led the company since 2009, previously said
the automaker's sheer size can slow down decision-making.
Osamu Nagata, previously Toyota's chief administrative
officer in North America, will be promoted to chief financial
officer and executive vice president, and joins the board of
Mitsuru Kawai will become executive vice president in charge
of factories. Kawai joined Toyota as a plant worker in the
1960s, rising to the automaker's highest position held by blue
Board directors Mitsuhisa Kato, Takahiko Ijichi and Nobuyori
Kodaira will step down and become company advisors. Senior
managing officers Hirofumi Muta, Koei Saga and Soichiro Okudaira
will also step down.
Muta will join affiliate Hino Motors Ltd as
executive vice president, whereas Saga will become an executive
advisor at Toyota and chairman of the automaker's racing arm.
Okudaira will head compact car maker Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd,
which became a wholly-owned Toyota company last year.
Operational changes will take effect from April, while board
positions will be voted on at a shareholder meeting in June.
(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu and Maki Shiraki; Editing by