The automaker is at the center of the scandal involving defective air bags made from Japanese supplier Takata. While the recall has impacted multiple automakers, it’s affected Honda the most. Honda said Monday that president Takanobu Ito will step aside and be replaced by another Honda executive. Takanobu, who helped bring back the Acura NSX and Civic Type-R, will remain on the board as an adviser.
“I believe Honda needs to become one strong team in order to overcome challenges and the team requires a new, youthful leadership,” Ito said, according to a transcript provided by Honda. Ito had previously scrapped Honda’s goal of selling 6 million vehicles per year by 2017, saying the company needed to focus on quality instead of on sales targets.
Mr. Ito’s replacement is 55-year-old Takahiro Hachigo. He’s handled development of the U.S.-built Odyssey minivan and CR-V crossover and has guided the automaker’s business in the U.S., Europe and China during his 33-year career with Honda, the company said.
Ito joined Honda in 1978 as a chassis design engineer and has been president and CEO since 2009. The company lauded him for helping to expand its global manufacturing in emerging markets such as Mexico, Brazil, China and Indonesia.
Air bags made by Takata Corp. have been found to have inflators that can explode, expelling shards of metal and plastic. At least six deaths and dozens of injuries have been linked to the problem worldwide.
The announcement did not mention the problems with the airbags and came amid a slew of other managerial changes. Honda also said Koichi Fukuo, a senior managing officer tasked with overseeing quality after the recalls, would take over as R&D chief from Yoshiharu Yamamoto who is retiring.
Takata’s president, Stefan Stocker, resigned in December.