TOKYO — Toyota on Tuesday appointed a senior official at its biggest parts supplier as a top executive, promoting cooperation with its group companies as it pushes to compete in developing lower-emission cars and automated driving functions.
The world's No. 2 automaker has been overhauling its corporate structure to speed up decision-making and tap the R&D prowess of its supplier network as it faces increasing competition from global automakers and software companies to develop new transportation technologies.
Koji Kobayashi, vice chairman and board member of Denso Corp, who previously worked at Toyota for more than 30 years in roles including finance and sales, returns as chief financial and risk officer.
The company is also promoting Shigeki Tomoyama, who heads Toyota's division for connected vehicle technologies and its racing arm, and Moritaka Yoshida, an architect of Toyota's modular production system who also worked on the firm's latest foray into automated driving, to executive vice president roles.
As the onslaught of electrification, automation and car- and ride-sharing requires automakers to act quickly to develop and market new technologies, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said the company was facing a "now or never" moment which could determine whether auto companies would continue to play a leading role as carmakers.
"Our coming structural change reflects our will that the Toyota Group will tackle this era of profound transformation," Toyoda said in a statement.
Gill Pratt, who heads Toyota's artificial intelligence research division, has been named as a company fellow, while Satoshi Ogiso, a key member of Toyota's original Prius development team who was dispatched to head brake supplier Advics Co in 2015, will return to Toyota as head of its commercial vehicles division.
The latest shuffle comes months after Toyota slimmed down its representative directors to centralize responsibility and accountability for the entire company.
Chief Branding Officer Tokuo Fukuichi, a former president of the Lexus luxury division, will resign from his post after taking it up in April. Toshiyuki Mizushima, head of the company's in-house powertrain company, will step down after leading the division created in April 2016.
Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu