Toyota North America Loses Three Top Executives
Toyota Motor North America announced the retirement today of group vice president of Americas strategic research and planning and corporate communications Steve Sturm, group vice president of strategic and product planning Dave Danzer and group vice president for environmental and public affairs Irv Miller. Toyota did not announce replacements for the three VPs, and wouldn’t even tell Automotive News [sub] their ages, saying simply that they were “of retirement age.”
Sturm will be leaving on January 1, a month before the other two. Sturm is also the only departing executive to have a replacement ready, with 20-year vet Jim Wiseman stepping into the breach. TMNA President Yoshi Inaba enthuses:
All of us at Toyota thank Steve for his many contributions to our success in the United States. I’m confident that Jim Wiseman will continue to build on those successes and enhance our communications capability across all of our affiliates.
Danzer and Miller were not similarly feted, casting their departure in a slightly less cordial light. Miller, Toyota’s top US spokesperson was last sighted l aying into the IIHS for failing to list a single ‘yota as a Top Safety Pick. After the year Toyota had though, there probably didn’t need to be an excuse for some housecleaning. And now the three amigos are free to throw their hats into the race to become GM’s next CEO.
Laying into the IIHS publicly was stupid and only gave the test results more publicity and credibility. If the automakers really felt like the testing methods were problematic they would collectively do something about it, like say not providing vehicles or launching a unified front in their criticisms. The fact that this idiot thought his comments would have any positive effect on their own (never mind actually making them) is grounds for dismissal in my opinion.
Not sure any of these TMS/TMA executives would be GM CEO material. Sturm and Danzer, in particular, are top notch execs (but complete egotistical jerks). Sturm should have been Lexus GM because he has got the magical touch but was passed over. I could see Steve being the head of marketing at GM, but I don't see him working underneath Susan Docherty. I do find it surprising that these guys who are in their mid- to late-50's are 'retiring'. Many of the leaders who were responsible for Toyota's success the past 10 years are now gone. Not good.
Is that Honda's Asimo tooting the horn?
I'm thinking that the Tundra disaster just might have something to do with these "retirements". Toyota blew many billions of dollars on the new Tundra development, dedicated factory and massive marketing roll-out. What have they got to show for it? Approximately nuthin'.