An experienced but little-known engineer has been appointed to lead Honda Motor Co. amid a slew of problems that have shaken its reputation for quality.
Takahiro Hachigo, 55, will replace Takanobu Ito, who is stepping down as chief executive after six years, during which Honda struggled through the global financial crisis, natural disasters and a recent wave of damaging recalls.
Hachigo joined Honda in 1982 and has worked across research and development, procurement and manufacturing, with spells in the United States, Britain and China, where he is a senior R&D executive, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Ito and other executives took a pay cut in October after a fifth recall in a year of the re-engineered Fit hybrid subcompact.
Last month, Honda trimmed its core annual profit forecast, setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars to cover mass recalls to replace air bag inflators made by Takata Corp that have been linked to six deaths, all in Honda cars.
Ito said this month that the Fit quality glitches could have been caused at least in part by an aggressive sales target.
Hachigo, who worked on the popular US Odyssey minivan and CR-V crossover, skips several ranks in his promotion but Ito said his broad experience made him an ideal candidate.
“I felt this was the right timing for us to boost efficiency and results globally,” Ito, 61, told reporters.
Hachigo’s appointment marks the first time Honda has named a non-director and someone who has not headed the firm’s R&D company.
“My job is to take the [current] strategy forward, and evolve it,” Hachigo said.
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