Toyota's new top sales executive in Europe could not be more different from his dynamic predecessor, Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz.
Takis Athanasopoulos, who was born in Greece, is chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Europe in Brussels and the top-ranking European in the company.
The 56-year-old head of independent distributor Toyota Hellas in Greece fills the gap created by Diaz Ruiz's departure six months ago. Diaz Ruiz left Toyota to join Fiat Auto as head of sales and marketing.
Unlike the fast-talking, hard-charging Diaz Ruiz, Athanasopoulos - a former college professor - is cool and composed. That could help him get along better with Toyota's distributors around Europe.
'He has a calming presence and an air of authority,' said a Toyota executive.
Athanasopoulos joined Toyota Hellas in his homeland in 1986 and was appointed chairman and CEO of the Toyota-owned distributor in 1989. During his tenure, Toyota became market leader in the country, rising from almost no presence in the market to first place in both sales and customer satisfaction surveys.
Athanasopoulos began his new role in Brussels this month, reporting directly to Toyota Motor Europe Chairman Akira Imai.