Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda will remain as head of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association beyond next May, serving a rare third straight term, the industry body said Thursday.
Toyoda's extended tenure comes when the auto industry is putting more focus on electrification as momentum builds toward decarbonization. Japan has vowed to bring carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050.
Toyoda, 65, has served as chairman of the association, which includes makers of passenger cars, trucks and buses among its members, since 2018 and a third term will see him in the position through May of 2024.
"Member companies told me that they want to move on under the same leader in times of such a big change as carbon neutrality," Toyoda told an online news conference.
"I decided to accept the extension if my experience gained from crisis response up to now can help (the industry) overcome difficult times," Toyoda said, revealing that he was not sure until the last minute whether to accept the request to stay on.
In recent months, the auto industry has been pounded by parts shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which have forced them to curb output in a blow to the export-reliant Japanese economy.
Executives of Japan's three major automakers — Toyota, Nissan Motor Co., and Honda Motor Co. — have traditionally filled the post of chairman, which has a two-year extendable term.
The association will have six vice chairmen from May, an increase from the current four, with Nissan President Makoto Uchida and minicar-maker Suzuki Motor Corp. President Toshihiro Suzuki both taking on the post.
Honda President Toshihiro Mibe will replace incumbent Toshiaki Mikoshiba, the automaker's chairman, as vice chairman at the association.
The association has pledged to make all-out efforts toward carbon neutrality but Toyoda has stressed the need for a change in government energy policy, which relies on thermal power generation. Moving away from emissions-heavy electricity sources used in Japan, and thus its car manufacturing industry, is critical in the decarbonization drive.
Among the association members, Toyota has unveiled a goal to roughly quadruple its global sales of electrified vehicles, including hybrids, from current levels to 8 million in 2030.
Nissan aims to have new vehicles it sells in key markets electrified from the early 2030s, while Honda has unveiled plans to make electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles account for all of its sales by 2040 — the first Japanese automaker to declare a complete departure from gasoline-powered cars and hybrids.
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