Honda CEO Stepping Down, R&D Head Stepping Up
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.
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]
Conundrum on Feb 19, 2021
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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