Honda CEO Stepping Down, R&D Head Stepping Up

Honda has announced that CEO Takahiro Hachigo will be succeeded by the automaker’s head of research and development, Toshihiro Mibe. The company’s board held a meeting on Friday to finalize the decision, noting in a release that Mibe would officially be taking over leadership responsibilities on April 1st. A resolution of the general shareholder meeting is scheduled for June 2021, at which point Hachigo is assumed to be retiring from the business.

Mibe joined Honda’s engineering team in 1987 and had worked his way up to head of R&D in 2019. Since 2020, he’s also been working as the brand’s senior managing director. He’s to be tasked with taking the manufacturer into “the next era” — which we’re guessing entails strengthening its commitment to electric vehicles. Though the manufacturer also stated that “a new value system is spreading all around the world” adding that this change in management would help reflect that as it strives to solve social issues. 

It sounds like a lot to contend with, frankly, so it might be in the Japanese’ business’ best interest to stay focused on things that be bolted together. Honda has prioritized practical automobiles with efficient gasoline motors for its entire existence. But it has started to dabble in electrification with the introduction of the Honda E that took place in August. The company now wants EVs to comprise the majority of its sales volume by 2030 and seems to be hinting that a change in leadership would be an essential component in achieving said goal.

From Honda:

During the approximately six years since he ascended to the presidency in 2015, in the face of a period of great transformation of the company’s business environment, Hachigo took the initiative and formulated Honda’s 2030 Vision to enable Honda to become “a company society wants to exist” into the future. For the fulfilment of the company’s 2030 Vision statement — “to serve people worldwide with the joy of expanding their life’s potential” — Hachigo led Team Honda on a course to “solidify existing businesses” and “prepare for future growth.” Under Hachigo’s leadership, Honda has increased efficiency and strengthened its operating structure in the areas of production and product development. Moreover, by pursuing the “selection and concentration” of its corporate resources on a global basis, a solid foundation for the future was established, preparing Honda to take off in the new era.

While Honda has a tendency to try and go it alone (at least when compared to other manufacturers) Mibe has repeatedly expressed an interest in partnering with outside entities. He has also stated on numerous occasions that the company needs to transform itself and modernize — specifically in respect to alternative powertrains. Hachigo has stated this is the exact reason for the change in leadership, suggesting that his job was to set up Mibe for future success so the automaker can undergo major changes.

[Image: Anastasiia Moiseieva/Shutterstock]

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