Hachigo is handing off a company that is ready to embrace change. He reorganized operations, bolstered Honda's business in the all-important China market and brought the loosely independent Honda R&D Co. under the umbrella of the parent company. It was all in an attempt to speed decision making and control cost.
Hachigo also floated the goal of deriving two-thirds of Honda's global sales from electrified vehicles in 2030.
But in the hot field of full electric vehicles, Honda increasingly looks like an also-ran. The second-generation Clarity sedan was introduced with electric, plug-in and hydrogen fuel cell variants. Honda eventually stopped selling the lackluster EV version. Last year, Honda returned to the EV segment with the all-electric retro-styled subcompact E hatchback.
But through December, Honda sold only 4,108 Es in Europe and just 450 in Japan.
Honda must conserve resources to channel energy into independently developing its electrified products for markets outside the U.S., such as China, Japan and Southeast Asia.
A new lineup of EVs on a dedicated platform is on the way. Honda says the new global EV platform will arrive before 2025 and underpin larger EVs.
Mibe says his job will be accelerating Honda's shift into the new era.
"I understand what needs to be done," he said. "Time is crucial, especially these days."
Mibe joined Honda in 1987 and became the head of global powertrain in 2014. He is a bona fide engine engineer who helped lead Honda's hybrid push.
He worked closely with Hachigo to develop the company's 2030 electrification targets.
They also worked on the realignment launched in 2020 to better integrate Honda's sales, engineering, development and purchasing divisions, which long operated as stubbornly independent fiefdoms.
Fully leveraging that reorganization will be a key task for Mibe. But because Mibe is only two years younger than Hachigo, at 61, analysts don't expect the new boss to be around as long as his predecessor. Hachigo led the company for six years, about average for Honda's CEOs.
After that, some say, Honda will need leaders who came of age with a more digitally oriented outlook.
"In the next five to 10 years, Honda has a lot to do," analyst Nakanishi said. "Cars are now a digitalized product. The software era has to be led by the younger generation."