TOKYO — Akio Toyoda, scion of Toyota Motor Corp.'s founding family and its next president, will bring fresh thinking and a U.S. perspective to the world's top carmaker as it fights an unprecedented financial crisis.
Toyoda will succeed Katsuaki Watanabe in June, the company said last week, ending weeks of speculation. Toyoda, an executive vice president since 2005, will be 53 when he takes the helm, making him the youngest president in the company's history.
The Toyoda heir will inject an international outlook into a company with overseas operations, including in the United States, that now account for most of its sales and are contributing to the first operating loss in 70 years.
"Innovative and youthful ideas will be required," Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho said at a hastily called press conference to announce the change.
"We need a new generation to make bold change and reform."
Indeed, today's Toyota would be unrecognizable to Akio Toyoda's grandfather, Kiichiro, who founded the automaker in 1937, or his father, Shoichiro, president from 1981 to 1992.