TOKYO – Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has shuffled its top brass, naming Osamu Masuko chairman and CEO while promoting Tetsuro Aikawa to president and COO.
The changes take effect June 25, pending shareholder approval, the company said Wednesday.
The shift signals that Mitsubishi is preparing for new management in a post-Masuko era. Masuko, who became president in 2005, has led the company to record profits following a rough period marked by red ink, defect cover-ups and a tumultuous divorce with German partner Daimler AG.
Masuko, 64, is expected to focus his attention on building partnerships with other automakers as he takes on a chief executive title last used at Mitsubishi in 2005. Aikawa will handle more of the day-to-day governance.
Chairman Takashi Nishioka will retire.
Aikawa, 59, is an engineer noted for leading development of such Japan-market minicars as Mitsubishi's eK Wagon and the egg-shaped i runabout.
He joined Mitsubishi in 1978 and was promoted to its board of directors in 2005. He has also worked in domestic sales and manufacturing. Since 2011, he has led Mitsubishi's global production division, overseeing the realignment of Mitsubishi's U.S. and Japanese plants.
The overhaul included phasing out production of such U.S.-only models as the Eclipse, Endeavor and Galant at Mitsubishi's Normal, Ill., plant, and switching output there to the Outlander Sport small crossover, one of Mitsubishi's global strategic vehicles.
The streamlining also covered a consolidation of lines in Japan and the rollout of a new minivehicle joint venture with Nissan Motor Co. at Mitsubishi's Mizushima factory.
In an interview with Automotive News in December, Masuko was circumspect about how long he would stay with the company, which he joined in 2005 to help bail it out.
"At that time, I went around all the plants at MMC. Before me, there was on average nine different president over nine years," Masuko said.
"The employees said try to stay as long as possible. It was a not a good thing for the employees to have nine presidents in nine years. But it was beyond my imagination that I'd end up serving as president for such a long time."