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NAGOYA (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. announced Tuesday a new lineup of executives featuring two new non-Japanese managing officers.

John Harry Conomos, executive chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. Australia Ltd., and Panagiotis J. Athanasopoulos, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Marketing Europe, will join three non-Japanese managing officers who were appointed to the nonboard posts in June.

Conomos and Athanasopoulos are among 13 newly appointed managing officers.

The new management team includes no board member changes higher than the post of executive vice president, such as Chairman Hiroshi Okuda and President Fujio Cho.

Subject to approval at a shareholders’ meeting in June, the new management team, including managing officers, will have 71 members, up from the current 65. The average age of the new team will be 57.7, down from 58.6.

Corolla retakes top spot

The Toyota Corolla reclaimed its long-held position as Japan’s best-selling motor vehicle in fiscal 2003 from the Honda Fit compact.

The Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Tuesday that sales of the Corolla in the year to March 31 came to 190,867 against the Fit’s 158,285. The Fit fell to third place.

In fiscal 2002, the Fit edged out the Corolla to become the first non-Toyota vehicle to take top place in 16 years.

The Corolla had held the top position in 14 of the preceding 15 years. In fiscal 1999, the position was seized by Toyota’s Vitz car.

In second place in fiscal 2003 was Toyota’s Wish minivan, which witnessed a four-fold leap in sales to 163,719.

Import auto sales flat

Sales of new imported motor vehicles totaled 279,444 units in fiscal 2003, almost unchanged from the previous year, the Japan Automobile Importers Association said Tuesday.

The total for the year that ended March 31 comprises 245,732 vehicles produced by foreign companies, down 5.2 percent, and 33,712 produced by Japanese automakers at overseas factories, up 68 percent, it said.

Volkswagen was the top-selling brand in fiscal 2003 with a 19.51 percent market share, selling 54,512 units, down 8.1 percent, the association said.

Mercedes-Benz ranked second with a 16.68 percent share, selling 46,602 units, down 4.6 percent, followed by BMW with a 13.37 percent share on a 4.7 percent gain in sales to 37,347 units.

Honda placed fourth with a 6.24 percent share, selling 17,428 units, up 38 percent. Fifth place went to Toyota, which grabbed a 5.83 percent share, selling 16,296 units, up 131.4 percent.

In October, Toyota Motor Corp. began marketing Avensis sedans and station wagons assembled at its British plant in Japan. Since then, it has been in the upper end of the sales rankings due to strong Avensis sales.

Volvo placed sixth with a 5.26 percent share, selling 14,697 units, down 5.5 percent. Seventh place went to Peugeot, which sold 14,688 units, down 5.9 percent, obtaining a share of 5.26 percent.

In March alone, sales of new imported motor vehicles rose 1.5 percent from a year earlier to 37,192 vehicles for the second consecutive monthly gain, it said.

The March total comprises 32,469 vehicles produced by foreign firms, down 0.9 percent, and 4,723 units produced overseas by Japanese automakers, up 21.1 percent.

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