Akio Toyoda, great-grandson of Toyota dynasty founder Sakichi Toyoda, began his new job as Toyota president today.
The 53-year-old begins amid extremely difficult trading times for the automobile industry. The beginning of the month saw one of Toyota's biggest rivals for the title of world's largest carmaker, General Motors, file for bankruptcy. Toyoda also starts with words of warning from his predecessor still ringing in his ears.
Katsuaki Watanabe told shareholders at today's meeting that the markets are still not improving, especially in the US. "Right now, we can see recovery in some markets, but in the US it's still not transparent," he said.
And Toyota has already felt the effects of the depressed US market when it posted its first annual loss in 59 years last year. This negative trend is not looking likely to change soon as the carmaker expects a record loss of $5.76 billion this year.
Toyoda (pictured) is the first family member to be in charge of the company since 1995. His rise has been quick, as only last year Toyoda was appointed to the role of chairman of the board of directors for Toyota's European arm. He has worked at the company since 1984 and served on the main board of directors since 2000.
Toyoda and his new board are set to hold a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday.
Toyota is the world's largest carmaker and the world's second largest family business with annual revenues of $26 billion. The Toyoda family collectively own a 2% stake in the company.
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