Toyota president Akio Toyoda to step aside in leadership shakeup

Koji Sato is set to become Toyota Motor Corporation's new president and CEO

Toyota Motor Corporation announced Thursday that current president and CEO Akio Toyoda will step aside and become chairman as part of a leadership shakeup. 

In a statement, the company said "Takeshi Uchiyamada will resign from his post as Chairman of the Board of Directors," while "Akio Toyoda will be appointed the new chairman and Koji Sato the new president and Chief Executive Officer." 

"I am going to give it my all," said Sato, who has been managing the Lexus luxury division and Toyota motor racing. "The new team will lead the shift in the transition to a mobility company to provide the freedom of mobility to all people." 

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The appointments still need shareholders' approval, scheduled for the next general meeting. Toyoda said Uchiyamada's decision to quit as chairman propelled him to take that job and give up the presidency. 

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Toyota Akio Toyoda and Koji Sato

Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, right, with Koji Sato, president of Gazoo Racing Company and president of Lexus International Co., in Chiba, Japan, on Friday, Jan. 13. (Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Toyota announced the leadership reshuffle without any forewarning, but it had a promotional video prepared to highlight Toyoda and Sato’s love for electric vehicles and fast cars. 

Although Toyota is the top Japanese company in terms of market value, it has been criticized in recent years as falling behind in the industry's move toward electric vehicles. 

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Toyota's President Akio Toyoda delivers speech

Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images / Getty Images)

In December, Toyoda questioned whether the push for the auto industry to phase out gas-powered vehicles is the right decision. 

"People involved in the auto industry are largely a silent majority," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal. "That silent majority is wondering whether EVs are really OK to have as a single option. But they think it’s the trend so they can’t speak out loudly." 

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Toyota Prius 2023 model

People look at the newly redesigned 2023 Prius hybrid unveiled by Japanese automaker Toyota prior to the start of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles Nov. 16, 2022. (REUTERS/Mike Blake / Reuters Photos)

Like other automakers, Toyota recently has contended with a supply crunch in semiconductors and other parts, because of production snags caused by disruptions from the pandemic.  

The problem hurt Toyota, which also makes the Camry sedan and bZ4X electric car, because it could not keep up with customer demand, The Associated Press reported. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.