TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda overhauled his top management for a second straight year, strengthening his control over the world's largest carmaker to vie with General Motors Co. and Volkswagen.
Three of Toyoda's seven executive vice presidents will step down, being replaced by just two people, the carmaker said in a statement today. Three outsiders will be added to the board, including former GM group Vice President Mark Hogan, the first foreigner on Toyota's board since 2007.
The changes mean Toyoda, 56, will have replaced all but one of his top lieutenants within a span of two years as he grooms the next generation of leaders at Japan's largest manufacturer, founded by his grandfather in 1937.
While the yen's 7 percent decline this year is boosting earnings, the company faces a growing challeng from U.S. and European automakers in markets from China to the U.S.
"It's been gradual, steady process and this is just part of the change that's in his mind," said Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp. in Tokyo. "It's good for Toyota."
Hogan, president of Dewey Investments and formerly president of Magna International, will be joined by Ikuo Uno, executive adviser at Nippon Life Insurance Co., and Haruhiko Kato, president of the Japan Securities Depository Center, as outsiders entering Toyota's board.
"The appointment of outside board members shows Toyota has opened up more and become fully global," Chairman Fujio Cho, 76, told reporters today in Tokyo.
Cho, serving in a largely ceremonial role, will become honorary chairman and be succeeded by current Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada. Uchiyamada, 66, led Toyota's development of the Prius -- the world's best-selling gasoline-electric car -- before he was promoted to executive vice president in 2005. He became vice chairman of Toyota's board in June 2012. He graduated from Nagoya University in 1969 with a degree in applied physics and joined Toyota the same year, according to the company's website.
North America chief
Among the six executives promoted this year to senior managing officer -- one level below executive vice president in Toyota's hierarchy -- Jim Lentz will oversee North American operations as the region's chief executive officer. Lentz was previously the U.S. sales chief.
"These changes will help us to achieve sustainable growth and realize our global vision by giving more responsibility to each region, including our North and South American operations," Toyoda said in a statement.
Atsushi Niimi, 65, who managed production and dealt with supply-chain disruptions after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, is among the three outgoing executive vice presidents.
The other two are Shinichi Sasaki, 66, who was in charge of quality control when Toyota recalled millions of vehicles from 2009, and Yukitoshi Funo, 66, who looked after Toyota's Asian business outside of Japan.
Yasumori Ihara, 61, senior managing officer in charge of logistics and purchasing, and Seiichi Sudo, who headed Toyota Motor Kyushu Inc., will be promoted to executive vice presidents, the company said.
Toyota also said that it's reorganizing its automotive business into four units to speed up decision making and clarify its operations.
One division will focus on Lexus; the other on North America, Europe and Japan; the third on the rest of the word; and the fourth components such as engines and transmission parts.