Honda CEO Hachigo to step down, get replaced by R&D chief Mibe

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Honda Motor Co. President and CEO Takahiro Hachigo speaks during a round-table meeting at the company headquarters in Tokyo, Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) – Honda Motor Co said on Friday Chief Executive Officer Takahiro Hachigo would step down, handing over the reins to the head of the automaker’s research and development arm, Toshihiro Mibe, on April 1.

Hachigo will remain on the company board, Japan’s second-biggest automaker by sales said in a statement.

Mibe, 59, joined Honda in 1987, with stints in engine development and the drivetrain business. He became the president of Honda’s R&D unit in 2019, working with Hachigo to push through structural reforms.

Mibe’s appointment, first reported by Reuters this week, comes as Honda races to catch up in the field of all-electric cars and faces competition from new entrants and tech giants such as Tesla (NASDAQ:), Apple (NASDAQ:) and Amazon (NASDAQ:).

Traditionally known for its fuel-efficient internal-combustion engines, Honda launched its first mass-produced all-battery vehicle last August. It has said it wants new-energy vehicles such as plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell cars to make up two-thirds of its sales by 2030.

The two executives will hold a news conference at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT).

During his six years as CEO, Hachigo sought to simplify the vehicle development process by combining some operations for cars and motorcycles. He also slashed costs by streamlining Honda’s model line-up and consolidating factories at home and overseas.

Hachigo also expanded a partnership with General Motors Co (NYSE:) to include cooperation in developing electric and autonomous vehicles.

To focus on zero-emission technology, Honda last year said it would stop participating as an engine supplier in the FIA Formula One World Championship at the end of the 2021 season.

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