Akio Toyoda

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Toyota’s new execs see industry crisis

President Akio Toyoda

Toyota’s newly promoted global executives, all from different backgrounds and companies, share President Akio Toyoda’s view that an industry crisis is looming.

Back in November, Toyota announced its plans to change its executive line-up and revise its organisational structure to boost business innovation in  January 2018.

A once-in-a-century change is occurring,” said Satoshi Ogiso, a former hybrid-vehicle engineer who left Toyota to run brake supplier Advics Co., and has returned as president of Toyota’s commercial vehicle business. “We have to overcome a time of major change.”

Even Toyota’s newly appointed chief communications officer, Masahiro Yamaoka, couldn’t help fretting aloud about Toyota’s challenges.

“In all aspects, we really can’t wait,” he said. “This is a survival or death situation.”

The crisis mentality is being cultured from the top by President Akio Toyoda, who is looking far beyond the next few quarters. Toyota is expecting a record net income for the current fiscal year.

Toyoda says his top priority is keeping the company nimble and responsive to the major change rising over the industry, including the spectre of self-driving cars.

Akihiro Fukutome, the new head of Toyota Financial Services Co. said his mission came from Toyoda – “He told me to blow a new wind from outside and quicken the pace of change.”

On the finance front, Fukutome said new mobility businesses, such as ride-sharing, are forcing Toyota to devise new revenue streams, combining finance and technology. Referring to the buzzword for innovative financial technologies, he added, “ ’Fintech’ is the word that is often used. I would like to do something new.”

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