FRANKFURT - Toyota Motor Europe has hired a top marketing executive away from Audi and given him broad new powers.
Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz, 54, joined Toyota in Brussels as head of sales and marketing on 1 February. He is second in rank only to Chairman Tatsuo Takahashi.
Ruiz said his responsibilities will exceed those of retired Vice Chairman Alan Marsh. He said he plans to centralize Toyota's European sales and marketing.
'Toyota is a very young company,' he said. 'We are going from a period when the company focused on growth to one where we establish a clear vision of the brand. Until now each national company has developed Toyota's business.'
Ruiz, a Spaniard, has been Audi's top sales and marketing executive for four years.
During that time Audi sharply increased its sales. Before Audi, Ruiz ran sales and marketing at VW's Seat subsidiary.
He will not be replaced at Audi, said Audi spokesman Juergen De Graeve. His duties will be split among several executives.
Toyota wants to pass Nissan as the leading Japanese brand in Europe.
'To be prepared for the next millennium,' Takahashi said, 'we need European top managers.'
Toyota's western European sales rose 12 percent last year to 372,575, and it overtook Nissan in Germany. Toyota's market share in western Europe was 2.8 percent. Nissan's was 3.0 percent.