Honda names veteran exec Mikoshiba to head Europe operations

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FRANKFURT -- Honda named veteran executive Toshiaki Mikoshiba to head operations in Europe as the carmaker seeks to strengthen its local management team amid stalling sales in the region.

He succeeds Manabu Nishimae, who returns to Japan as a managing operating officer at the carmaker following three years in charge of Honda's European operations.

Mikoshiba will take up the role of Honda Europe president on April 1. He will also serve as chief operating officer in the region.

Honda Europe's three senior vice presidents - Ian Howells, Philip Ross and Koji Arai - remain unchanged and will support Mikoshiba as he makes the transition into the new position, the company said in a statement.

Mikoshiba joined Honda in 1980 and has held a number of senior management roles at the company. In 2008, he was promoted to executive vice president and director of Honda Europe before becoming president of Honda Russia two years later. In 2011, he was appointed to his current job as head of Honda's China operations.

Mikoshiba's appointment comes as Honda prepares to boost its lineup in the region starting next year with a new-generation Jazz subcompact and a European version of the Vezel small SUV.

Last year, Honda vehicle sales in the EU and EFTA markets fell 1 percent to 139,712, giving the automaker a market share of 1.1 percent, according to industry association ACEA.

Mikoshiba is tasked with boosting Honda sales in Europe.

The move to freshen the product lineup in Europe is part of a wider drive to boost the Japanese automaker's global sales by 2017 and to make the European unit profitable by 2016. Honda has not made money in Europe since 2007.

Honda Motor President Takanobu Ito has said the automaker aims to boost global sales to 6 million vehicles in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, from 4 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013.

Key models such as the Vezel crossover, which will compete in Europe's increasingly popular small SUV segment, and the Jazz, are expected to account for global sales of 1.6 million units by 2016, Ito said.

You can reach David Jolley at djolley@crain.com.

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