TOKYO -- Takanobu Ito, head of global automotive operations at Honda Motor Co., has been tapped as the carmakers next president and CEO starting in June as the company grapples with global sales declines and a strong yen.
Ito, 55, succeeds Takeo Fukui, 64, who has held the post since 2003. The shuffle will be approved at a board of directors meeting scheduled for late June, Honda said early today.
Fukui will remain on the board and assume a role as advisor.
Ito, currently a senior managing director, joined Honda in 1978 working in research and development.
The duties later took him to the United States as executive vice president of Honda R&D Americas. And he later returned to Japan as president and director of Honda R&D Co.
The engineer became chief of Hondas global automobile business in 2007.
In April, Ito will once again be appointed president and director of Honda R&D Co., Honda said. He will hold that position concurrently with his job as president and CEO.
Dealing with the crisis
Fukui, a motor racing fan who announced in December his firm would pull out of Formula One racing, steps down at a critical time for Honda.
Automakers everywhere are grappling with plunging sales and Honda will be fighting an uphill battle against losses in the new business year from April, as a strong Japanese yen adds to the pain when profits are repatriated.
The Japanese currency traded around 93 per dollar on Monday, not far from a 13-year high near 87 per dollar hit in January.
But thanks to its more cautious and measured business approach, Honda is still expecting to stay in the black for the year ending March 31, unlike rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co.
With sales crumbling in the main markets of the United States, Europe and Japan, Fukui reluctantly pulled out of Formula One racing to channel the funds instead to the development of a new generation of cars.
He also resisted building a car factory in Russia when most rivals took the plunge when sales there were soaring last year. Car sales in Russia have since reversed, falling by double-digits in the past few months.
Reuters contributed to this report