Page last updated at 08:53 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 09:53 UK

Founder's grandson to lead Toyota

Toyota's new president Akio Toyoda
Akio Toyoda faces a tough challenge to revive Toyota's fortunes

Toyota has appointed the grandson of the company's founder as its new president, as the Japanese carmaker aims to turnaround its fortunes.

Akio Toyoda, 53, faces a tough job, as like most global car companies, Toyota has seen its sales slump in the face of the continuing global recession.

Last month, Toyota reported the biggest annual loss in its history, and it has already warned of worse for this year.

For the year to 31 March, it made a net loss of 437bn yen ($4.6bn; £2.8bn).

'Continued hardships'

Mr Toyoda will lead a new management team that includes four new executive vice presidents.

Akio Toyoda's cousin had been groomed in parallel for the same job - a sign of how the company likes to play safe
Jorn Madslien, BBC business reporter

Like many rivals, Toyota has cut production, including at its UK plants, as sales have declined.

Its loss for the year to 31 March was its first since 1963.

"We expect to face continued hardship in our business environment for the near term, despite signs of recovery in some areas," outgoing Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe told the firm's annual shareholder meeting.

Analysts said that Mr Watanabe, who had led Toyota since 2005, had paid the price for the firm's recent problems.

However, he will remain on the board, taking up the position of vice chairman.

Name change

Toyota was founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937. He chose the name Toyota for the business rather than his surname, because Toyota was considered luckier when written in Japanese.

Toyota plant in Japan
Toyota is expecting to see its losses widen this year

Car industry analyst Masaaki Sato, who has written a number of books on the company, said that the success of Japan's largest carmaker was considered important for the economy as a whole.

"We can say that if Toyota fails, then the Japanese economy will surely fail," he said.

"If Toyota can properly do its job, then the economy can recover."



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