BRUSSELS - Toyota's highly-regarded sales and marketing boss for Europe has resigned unexpectedly.
Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz, executive vice president for sales and marketing at Toyota Motor Europe, had been a key factor in Toyota's rapid growth in Europe.
Toyota Motor Europe, based here, said Diaz Ruiz left on June 30 and has returned home to Spain. His rapid departure surprised co-workers, who had learned only days earlier of the resignation.
Diaz Ruiz 'went home for personal reasons, to take time off and find a new orientation and direction for his life,' said a spokesman for Toyota Motor Europe. 'His relations with Toyota were excellent.'
Diaz Ruiz could not be reached for comment.
Toyota will not immediately replace Diaz Ruiz, who joined the company in early 1998. Akira Imai, president and chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe, has temporarily assumed Diaz Ruiz's responsibilities.
Toyota is in the middle of a product and marketing offensive in Europe that was led by Diaz Ruiz. It has achieved record sales and has become the first Japanese make to sell more than 500,000 units a year in Europe.
Toyota wants to increase annual European sales to 800,000 units by 2005. It sold 600,000 units in Europe last year. Toyota also wants to increase its European market share to 5 percent from the current 3 percent.
Before joining Toyota, Diaz Ruiz was head of marketing and international sales at Audi. He also held key sales and marketing posts at VW's Spanish subsidiary Seat and at Ford of Europe.