TOKYO Nov 30 Toyota Motor Corp on
Wednesday appointed its president to lead their newly formed
electric car division, flagging its commitment to develop a
technology that the automaker has been slow to embrace.
The change comes as the United States, China and European
countries are encouraging automakers to make more all-electric
battery cars as they push alternative energy strategies.
Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company's founder Kiichiro
Toyoda, has been at the helm of the world's largest automaker
since 2009. He will head the company's electric vehicle (EV)
planning department along with Executive Vice Presidents
Mitsuhisa Kato and Shigeki Terashi.
"By putting the president and vice presidents in charge of
the department, we plan to speed up development of electric
cars," said Toyota spokeswoman Kayo Doi, following a personnel
change announcement by the company.
"The president will directly oversee the department's
operations to enable decisions to be made quickly and nimbly."
The department comprises a new in-house unit to plan
Toyota's strategy to develop and market electric cars as part of
the company's efforts to keep pace with the tightening global
Toyota is also shifting the chief engineer of its Prius
petrol-hybrid to its EV efforts, appointing Koji Toyoshima to
head the division's engineering team. Toyoshima will also join
the four-member EV strategy unit, which will include
representatives from group suppliers - Denso Corp,
Aisin Seiki Co, and Toyota Industries Corporation
Rivals such as Nissan Motor Co, Volkswagen AG
and Tesla Motors have touted pure electric
cars as the most viable zero-emission vehicles.
However, Toyota until recently said it favoured EVs for
short-distance commuting given their limited driving range and
lengthy charging time. It has been investing heavily in hydrogen
fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs), which the company considers as the
ultimate "green" car.
Earlier this month, Toyota said it will develop cars with up
to 15 percent greater range and battery life in the next few
(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)