Toyota Motor Corp.'s promotion of Lexus chief Koji Sato to CEO of the world's largest automaker early Thursday was not a surprise to those who follow the company. And the move of longtime CEO Akio Toyoda to chairman also was anticipated.
Still, the timing of the announcement caught Toyota followers off guard. Here are some of the insider reactions to the changes at the top of Toyota, which take effect April 1.
Bob Carter, recently retired sales chief at Toyota Motor North America:
“I’m a huge fan (of Soto). He’s one of the talented engineers in the entire Toyota system. He has a great personality, and he also has a really good business mind.”
Carter said Soto is the engineer responsible for Toyota’s critically acclaimed GR series of performance vehicles, Supra, Corolla and 86 – all of which are on Car and Driver’s 2023 10 Best list.
“I always felt Akio would take the chairmanship; I’ve always been rooting for him. That wasn’t a big surprise. The only surprise was the timing.”