TOKYO -- Tomohiko Kawanabe has been named the new head of Honda Motor Co.'s r&d subsidiary, taking over a role currently held by President and CEO Takanobu Ito.
Kawanabe, a 33-year veteran of the Japanese carmaker, will start as president and director of Honda R&D Co. effective April 1, the company said today.
Ito, 56, who took over as president of Honda Motor last June, has concurrently held the posts of president of Honda Motor Co. and president of Honda R&D. Ito, who has been in charge at Honda R&D since 2003, now gives up that job to focus on the parent company.
The path through Honda R&D to the executive suite is well worn, upping the odds that Kawanabe, 57, may be in line, though he is a year older than Ito. Honda presidents traditionally cut their teeth at the automaker's cherished development subsidiary. Previous President Takeo Fukui headed the operation in 1998.
Ito held the top jobs at Honda Motor and Honda R&D, saying he wanted to consolidate control and facilitate communication and decision making. But he wasn't expected to hold both for long.
In the past year, Ito has killed off several r&d projects such as Honda's V-8 engine program to save money and refocused its development on environmentally friendly drivetrains.
Kawanabe is currently senior managing director of Honda R&D.
He joined the company in 1977 and has roots as a power plant engineer. Among his noted work are stints developing engines for the Civic and fuel cell drivetrains.