Toyota Motor Corp has on Wednesday named the chief operating officer, Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa it's North America new chief executive, as former CEO Jim Lentz, would retire on April 1.
Tetsuo Ogawa has worked for Toyota in a number of posts since he joined the multinationals in 1984. He became the chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North America in November 2018. The former chief operating officer now CEO has been tasked with navigating an industry shift to electrification and automation of Toyota Automobiles.
Former CEO, Jim Lentz who had spent 38 years at Toyota said his long tenure including almost seven years at the helm was in part a function of the automaker’s culture.
“We have a long-term view of things and try to keep our eyes on the horizon and not get seasick with all the dips and twists and turns,” Lentz, 64, said in an interview. “The new normal in the world is a little more chaotic and so we have to do a better job of scenario planning.”
Lentz guided Toyota in the United States through a number of challenges, most notably the 2010 unintended acceleration crisis that prompted the recall of millions of vehicles.
In 2014, Toyota agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department after it admitted to misleading consumers in relation to the matter.
More recently, Toyota under Lentz improved its relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump and helped stave off vehicle import tariffs. Lentz attended a White House event in July after presidential adviser Ivanka Trump toured Toyota’s Kentucky operations in March.
In a statement, Ted said Lentz “was instrumental in the restructuring and bringing our North American region together.”
Toyota is building a $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama with compatriot Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T) that it expects to open in 2021. In July, Toyota said it would build SUVs at the plant rather than its Corolla line of cars.