TOKYO - Toyota's U.S. sales and manufacturing chiefs are about to be elevated to the highest posts ever held by Americans at the automaker.
Jim Press, 56, COO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., is one of three non-Japanese executives who soon will join the top 66 executives at Toyota Motor Corp.
The other two are Gary Convis, 60, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky Inc., and Alan Jones, 62, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd.
Previously, the moves might have put the trio on the Toyota board of directors. But Toyota is shrinking its board from 58 to 27.
Press and the other two non-Japanese officials will become managing officers, executives one level below the board who will be given greater autonomy for running their operations. But the board retains final operating authority.
Meanwhile, Toshiaki "Tag" Tagu-chi, 62, CEO of Toyota Motor North America Inc., will leave the board but remain in his job.
Yoshimi Inaba, 57, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., and Teruyuki Minoura, 59, a former president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America who now heads Toyota's Global Purchasing Center, remain board members with new titles: senior managing directors.
In addition, cousins Akio Toyoda and Shuhei Toyoda are being promoted one level, to senior managing director, so that both will become part of Toyota's board.
Shoichiro Toyoda, the automaker's honorary chairman and Akio Toyoda's father, also will take a seat on the board. The Toyoda family thus will account for 11 percent of board votes, even though the family holds less than 5 percent of Toyota Motor stock.
Akio Toyoda is a managing director in charge of the e-Toyota Division and the China & Asia Operations Office.
Shuhei Toyoda, who is former chairman Eiji Toyoda's son, is officially a director, but with managing director status, in charge of Toyota Motor Europe SA/NV, Toyota Motor Europe Engineering & Manufacturing SA/NV, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd.
The changes will be confirmed at Toyota's annual shareholders meeting in June.
Among the other managing directors who will become senior managing directors and join the board are Tokuichi Uranishi, who heads the European and African Operations Center, and Takeshi Uchiyamada, the engineer who led the development of the Prius hybrid car. He heads Vehicle Development Center 1, among other duties.