TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. appointed former General Motors executive Mark Hogan to its board, installing the first foreigner since 2007 and the first outside director ever in an attempt to breathe fresh perspective into the mammoth Japanese carmaker.
The move is part of a sweeping management overhaul that promotes Takeshi Uchiyamada to chairman, switches out more than a third of the current board and realigns global business units.
Among the changes is the introduction of new regional chiefs, including the first CEO for North America, Jim Lentz.
Lentz, currently a managing officer in charge of Toyota Motor North America and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., will be promoted to senior managing officer at the parent company and take on a new overarching title of regional title of CEO for Toyota's biggest market.
The moves build on Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda's efforts to inject outside voice and give Toyota's management a profile more accurately reflecting its global reach as the world's biggest carmaker.
"We strongly believe it is important to bring in more opinions from outside," Toyoda said today while announcing the changes. "Reborn is the new catchword we are talking about."
That push crystallized in 2011, as the company battled back from its global recall crisis and realized that more decision-making needed to be delegated to far-flung regional offices.
Hogan, 61, a former vice president at GM and former president of supplier Magna International, is one of three external directors newly appointed. The others are Japanese.
The additions expand the board to 16 members from 13. Retiring from the board will be Chairman Fujio Cho, emerging market chief Yukitoshi Funo, manufacturing boss Atsushi Niimi, purchasing head Shinichi Sasaki, and financial officer Takahiko Ijichi.
Cho will join Akio Toyoda's father, Shoichiro Toyoda, as an honorary chairman. He will be replaced by Uchiyamada, revered internally as the chief engineer of the original Prius hybrid.
"We have taken a step forward to be truly global," Cho said.
The changes to the board take effect after Toyota's annual shareholder's meeting in June, the company said. The other moves take effect April 1.
North American impact
The shuffle touches North America in several ways:
Shigeki Terashi, who currently leads North American operations, will return to Japan as a board member and lead corporate planning, research and design quality innovation.
Kazuo Ohara, currently executive vice president at Lexus International, will assume the duties of CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and report to Lentz.
Mark Templin, currently a general manager at Lexus International, will be promoted to managing officer and executive vice president of Toyota's luxury brand. Templin will be the first non-Japanese to oversee a Toyota division from within the company's global headquarters in Japan.
Bob Carter, now senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., adds responsibility for Lexus.
Steve St. Angelo, managing officer in charge of North American manufacturing, will be appointed CEO of Toyota's Latin America and Caribbean operations.
Osamu "Simon" Nagata, managing officer in charge of global external affairs, will take St. Angelo's job as CEO and present of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, North America. He will lead Toyota's North American manufacturing and engineering operations and also report to Lentz.
Yoshimi Inaba, chairman of TMS, will become executive chairman.
Ray Tanguay will resign as a senior managing officer at the parent company but continue as chairman of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada.
The swapping of jobs across regions -- and the raised profile of North Americans in other regions -- reflects a push by Toyota to leverage its talent on a global scale regardless of nationality.
"It's essential that we increase the synergy between regions and come together as one global Toyota," Uchiyamada said.
Other non-Japanese tapped as regional CEOs: Johan van Zyl, who oversees Africa, and Didier Leroy for Europe.
Having outside board members is rare for a Japanese company. In that sense, Toyota is aligning itself closer to international business practices. But its board still lacks a non-Japanese employee who rose through the company's ranks.
The last was Jim Press, who left in 2007 to join Chrysler.
It's not Hogan's first collaboration with Toyota. He was first hired by Toyota in September 2010 as an external adviser on a committee that also included Alexis Herman, a former U.S. secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton.
He is also a long-time friend of Toyoda's.
Akio Toyoda, Takeshi Uchiyamada and Fujio Cho at today's press conference. Said Toyoda: "We strongly believe it is important to bring in more opinions from outside."
He met Toyoda while the future Toyota chief worked at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. factory, a now-defunct joint venture between GM and Toyota in Fremont, Calif.
Toyoda praised Hogan for his automotive acumen. Said Toyoda: "He will be a non-Japanese who can frankly communicate with me."
Toyota also revamped its global business structure around four core groups. The first is Lexus International.
The next is called Toyota 1 and encompasses business in mature markets such as the United States, Japan and Europe.
The third is Toyota 2, which focuses on emerging markets.
Finally, Toyota has created the Unit Center, which coordinates cross-business r&d on such things as engines and transmissions.