By on February 19, 2021

Honda has announced that CEO Takahiro Hachigo will be succeeded by the automaker’s head of research and development, Toshihiro Mibe. The company’s board held a meeting on Friday to finalize the decision, noting in a release that Mibe would officially be taking over leadership responsibilities on April 1st. A resolution of the general shareholder meeting is scheduled for June 2021, at which point Hachigo is assumed to be retiring from the business.

Mibe joined Honda’s engineering team in 1987 and had worked his way up to head of R&D in 2019. Since 2020, he’s also been working as the brand’s senior managing director. He’s to be tasked with taking the manufacturer into “the next era” — which we’re guessing entails strengthening its commitment to electric vehicles. Though the manufacturer also stated that “a new value system is spreading all around the world” adding that this change in management would help reflect that as it strives to solve social issues. 

It sounds like a lot to contend with, frankly, so it might be in the Japanese’ business’ best interest to stay focused on things that be bolted together. Honda has prioritized practical automobiles with efficient gasoline motors for its entire existence. But it has started to dabble in electrification with the introduction of the Honda E that took place in August. The company now wants EVs to comprise the majority of its sales volume by 2030 and seems to be hinting that a change in leadership would be an essential component in achieving said goal.

From Honda:

During the approximately six years since he ascended to the presidency in 2015, in the face of a period of great transformation of the company’s business environment, Hachigo took the initiative and formulated Honda’s 2030 Vision to enable Honda to become “a company society wants to exist” into the future. For the fulfilment of the company’s 2030 Vision statement — “to serve people worldwide with the joy of expanding their life’s potential” — Hachigo led Team Honda on a course to “solidify existing businesses” and “prepare for future growth.” Under Hachigo’s leadership, Honda has increased efficiency and strengthened its operating structure in the areas of production and product development. Moreover, by pursuing the “selection and concentration” of its corporate resources on a global basis, a solid foundation for the future was established, preparing Honda to take off in the new era.

While Honda has a tendency to try and go it alone (at least when compared to other manufacturers) Mibe has repeatedly expressed an interest in partnering with outside entities. He has also stated on numerous occasions that the company needs to transform itself and modernize — specifically in respect to alternative powertrains. Hachigo has stated this is the exact reason for the change in leadership, suggesting that his job was to set up Mibe for future success so the automaker can undergo major changes.

[Image: Anastasiia Moiseieva/Shutterstock]

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12 Comments on “Honda CEO Stepping Down, R&D Head Stepping Up...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That’s a lot of fluff words by Honda to make a vague distant promise of 51% electrification (or BEVs, who knows) by 2030.

    With the exception of Tesla, and now VW, most of these companies are looking around the room at the other guys to see what they’re going to do – just like a middle school dance.

    The downside of hesitation is that these companies become regulated out of existence. The only upside is that they show better balance sheets for the next decade, until they can’t sell product any longer.

    I’m convinced that the bean counters and consumers are at odds with the regulators. Consumers *may* want EVs, the regulators *definitely* want EVs, but the accountants definitely *do not* want EVs.

    An EV program is a sure way to financial distress for years to come, but half measures don’t permit the economies of scale you need for profitability. Half measures also dilute the resources put onto an EV project, since you still keep teams working on ICE stuff.

    That’s the challenge Mr Mibe faces.

    • 0 avatar

      Regulators beholden to fools, and lobbyists for fools, will always definitely want foolish things. Foolishness is, after all, all they and their clients are competitive producing.

      Honda has people on staff who knows better. They need to continue evolving their ability to make as good a product as they can, for as competitive a price as they can. Over time, fools fall on their own sword. And foolishness is found out to be nothing but, even by the ever so gullible and well indoctrinated. It may take awhile, and it may be prudent to play along with the fools for awhile to milk the fools for awhile. But betting on foolishness, is only a viable option for those themselves too foolish to have other options. Honda is not in such dire straits.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    ….to enable Honda to become “a company society wants to exist” into the future….

    Honda; all I want from you is to continue doing what you used to be excellent at: Manufacturing appealing and reliable vehicles.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    From the balcony of the Muppets theater it seems pretty easy. From here to forward every CUV/sedan platform should be designed to be a hybrid, with the ability to be transitioned to BiEV. It’s Ok to commit to being full electric by 20xx (let the socialists at Motor Trend decide what year to insert), but good lord don’t spend the R&D to do that or I’ll never get the chance to buy a new Honda sports car ever again.

    • 0 avatar

      A proper BEV platform doesn’t need the large hole for an ICE. IMO manufacturers should largely adapt old platforms to make PHEVs, since the ICE is still a big blob getting in the way, and create all-new BEV platforms that can take advantage of the ICE’s absence in terms of packaging. When I compared Model 3 and Bolt, one of the few unambiguous advantages of the 3 was the frunk, which the Bolt doesn’t have because the Sonic-based platform left Chevy with little choice but to put relatively small inverter and distribution hardware in the large space where the ICE used to go. Look underhood in a Bolt and there is a whole lot of extra space but not quite enough for a useful frunk.

  • avatar

    They should all resign at Honda for producing this total crap

  • avatar

    Honda made their first hybrid Insight for the year 2000. Sure was weird to drive – I kept waiting for the electric boost to happen which it never did, or maybe I didn’t notice, being so immersed in slipping the clutch to try and actually get it moving. The gearing was interstellar and the power was asteroidal. So they’ve been dabbling with electrickery for some time; well, that and double wishbone limited travel suspensions. An EV isn’t much of a stretch for them in my view.

    Never could quite get the final urge to buy a Honda because of those so-so, for me, suspenders. Still, many of my friends and acquaintances for 40 years did buy the brand and were perfectly happy. Not one of them suffered any tragedies, despite the recent historical revisionism from the internet basement experts that they were actually rolling piles of rubbish, unbeknownst to their actual owners. VW had a lock on rolling piles for decades after the British, French and Italian cars were sent home in ignominy.

    Now my Honda mower, there was a piece of junk. A wheel fell off, actually the assembly supposedly welded onto the deck. Mine wasn’t. Welded that is, so you gotta give the paint credit that it held the thing together till season two and no warranty.

    Still, I wish Honda luck. They’re going to need it. When all cars turn into high energy mobile two-box golf carts on stilts, with a windshield, a roof and A/C, brand differentiation is going to be a real problem.

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