Business / Corporate

Denso exec Koji Kobayashi to join Toyota's expanded leadership

Kyodo

Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it will increase the number of its executive vice presidents to six from the current four, and tap Koji Kobayashi, vice chairman of affiliate Denso Corp., to fill one of the slots on Jan. 1.

In a move to speed up efforts to adapt to the growing market for electric vehicles and advances in autonomous driving, the automaker will make the change three months earlier than usual. Personnel shifts are usually are made at the start of the fiscal year in April.

Toyota, Japan’s largest automaker, has focused on hybrid and fuel cell cars but has lagged behind rivals such as Nissan Motor Co. in offering EV models. In an attempt to catch up, Toyota teamed up with Denso and Mazda Motor Corp. in September to develop base technology for EVs through a new company.

Kobayashi, 69, who worked at Toyota until 2003 and was at one point President Akio Toyoda’s boss, will act as chief financial officer.

Senior managing officers Shigeki Tomoyama, 59, and Moritaka Yoshida, 60, will also be promoted to executive vice president posts, while incumbent Osamu Nagata, 60, will step down but remain a board member.

Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute — a Silicon Valley-based developer of artificial intelligence technology — will become a “fellow,” a new position equivalent to executive vice president created for those with a “high level of expertise.”