TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. said on Wednesday the top American executive at its U.S. sales unit will retire next year and be replaced by a former second-ranked official at Mazda Motor Corp.'s U.S. operations.
Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda, who is second in command under the unit's chief executive, Koichi Kondo, joined Honda more than 30 years ago, nearly a decade before Honda set up its first U.S. motorcycle plant in 1979.
John Mendel, until two weeks ago the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Mazda North America, will take over when Elliott steps down some time next year, a Honda spokesman said. No specific date was given.
Elliott, in charge of American Honda's product planning, marketing and distribution, has overseen rapid growth of the company during his tenure.
Having become the first Japanese automaker to set up a car manufacturing plant in the United States in 1982, Honda is now the fifth-biggest seller of cars and trucks there, with slightly more than 8 percent of the market. It has 13 factories in the country, including three car assembly plants.
Mendel, a 28-year Ford Motor Co. veteran touted for his success in convincing more Mazda dealers to go exclusive, resigned from Mazda North American Operations two weeks ago, and will join American Honda as senior vice president for automotive operations.