Father of Prius hybrid to become Toyota chairman
BEIJING/TOKYO (Reuters) – The man who led the development of Toyota Motor Corp’s Prius hybrid car is set to become the Japanese automaker’s chairman as early as this year, said two senior executives familiar with the matter, in a boardroom shuffle that should do little to lessen president Akio Toyoda’s grip.
A final decision to appoint Takeshi Uchiyamada, 66, to what is effectively the number two position in many Japanese firms has not yet been made and the promotion could still be postponed for a year.
But it’s already been an “established direction” and a “given” since last year that Uchiyamada, vice chairman since June, would replace Fujio Cho, who has been chairman since 2006, said the executives, who didn’t want to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media.
A Toyota spokesman declined to comment.
One of the knowledgeable company executives described Uchiyamada’s promotion as being a “highly anticipated” move since last year when Toyota asked Cho to serve one more year as chairman. Cho, a 75-year-old Toyota veteran who was company president from 1999 to 2005, would become a senior adviser.