That job currently belongs to Takanobu Ito, who will step down in June and hand the reins over to Takahiro Hachigo, subject to ratification by the shareholders.
Hachigo-san has been with Honda since 1982, rising up the ranks and holding a series of key executive and R&D posts with the Japanese automaker in locations around the world – including here in the United States, where he spearheaded development of the original Odyssey minivan and directed the company's American R&D center. He subsequently headed Honda's European operations and currently serves as its most senior officer in China. He's 55 years old.
He takes over from Ito-san after a tumultuous period for Honda. Ito, 62, joined Honda in 1978 and similarly rose through the R&D ranks, holding some of the same positions along the way that Hachigo would later, albeit more focused on the company's operations at home in Japan. Ito took over as president and CEO in 2009, steering Honda through a difficult period marked by fluctuating currencies, the tsunami disaster of 2011 and flagging quality issues that have forced Honda to issue unprecedented recalls, focusing much criticism on Ito's leadership. Honda recently recalled millions of vehicles that were fitted with Takata's faulty airbag inflators, which had the unpleasant tendency to spew shrapnel at consumers.
Ito will remain on board as a director and advisor, but what we'll be most interested to see is the direction in which Hachigo will take the company. Under Ito's leadership, Honda has brought back performance icons like the NSX and Civic Type R, launched innovative environmental technologies, delved into aerospace with the HondaJet and re-entered Formula One. One of Hachigo's first priorities will undoubtedly be to restore the company's reputation for quality, but we'll have to wait and see what (if any) sort of new and exciting developments he'll spearhead once he takes office.
Tokyo, February 23, 2015 --- Honda Motor Co., Ltd. ("Honda Motor") today announced that Takahiro Hachigo, currently the company's Managing Officer, will become Senior Managing Officer effective in April 2015, and will become President, Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director in late June 2015. Takanobu Ito, the current President, Chief Operating Officer and Representative Director, will remain on the board and assume the post of Director and Advisor to Honda Motor. This management succession will occur following the final decision of the Honda Motor Board of Directors after the company's annual shareholders' meeting, scheduled for late June 2015.
Hachigo joined Honda in 1982, and began his career in its automobile research and development operations, principally as an engineer in the area of chassis design. Hachigo was in charge of developing the first-generation of U.S.-built Odyssey minivan, which was launched in 1999 primarily for the U.S. market. Hachigo went on to assume responsibilities as the person-in-charge of developing the second generation CR-V, Honda's highly successful compact sport-utility vehicle for the worldwide markets, in 2001.
From April 2004 to March 2006, Hachigo was stationed in the U.S. as Senior Vice President of Honda R&D Americas, Inc., where he became actively involved in the local development of Honda and Acura automobiles. In April 2006, Hachigo became Operating Officer of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. ("Honda R&D") and subsequently gaining promotion to Managing Officer in April 2007. After retiring from this position in March 2008, Hachigo became General Manager of Purchasing Division No.2 of Purchasing Operations, Honda Motor, in April and became Operating Officer of Honda Motor in June of the same year. Hachigo then assumed a role in the area of manufacturing as General Manager of Honda's Suzuka Factory in April 2011. He served as Vice President and Director of Honda Motor Europe Ltd. from April 2012 to March 2013 and also as President and Director, Honda R&D Europe (U.K.) Ltd., from September 2012 to March 2013. In 2013, Hachigo's responsibilities shifted to China, becoming Vice President of Honda Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd. in April, simultaneously becoming Representative of Development, Purchasing and Production (China), Honda Motor, and Vice President of Honda Motor Technology (China) Co., Ltd. In April 2014, Hachigo was promoted to Managing Officer of Honda Motor, a title he currently holds.
Ito joined Honda in 1978 and began his career in the company's automobile research and development operations, primarily as a chassis design engineer. Ito was in charge of developing the all-aluminum uni-body frame structure for the highly acclaimed first-generation NSX sports car that went on sale in 1990. In June 2000, he was appointed a member of the Honda Motor Board of Directors, subsequently assuming responsibilities as President and Director of Honda R&D, General Manager of the Suzuka Factory, and most recently, President, Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director of Honda Motor, a title he has held since June 2009.
During the six years of Ito's leadership, Honda was able to actively evolve its global manufacturing structure, notably the establishment of automobile plants in Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia, India and China. Also under Ito's leadership, Honda succeeded in solidifying its business foundation by enhancing its product development capabilities-from the hugely popular N-series mini-vehicles, to automobile powertrain development as represented by the Earth Dreams Technology, to the establishment of product development structures in each of Honda's global regional operations. Furthermore, an all-new FCV that Ito has led in an effort to realize a CO2-free automobile, as well as "fun to drive" vehicles including the S660, Civic Type R and NSX models are scheduled to be launched during the fiscal year ending March, 2016. Likewise, Honda's participation in Formula 1, the pinnacle of automobile racing, and foray into aviation businesses with HondaJet and jet engine will take place during the same period.