Q&A: Honda Appoints New President

Feb 26, 2009
Kenichi Takata and Yutaka Chikaoka, Nikkei Monozukuri
Takanobu Ito, who was unofficially appointed as Honda's new president (left), and Takeo Fukui, who will become advisor (right)
Takanobu Ito, who was unofficially appointed as Honda's new president (left), and Takeo Fukui, who will become advisor (right)
[Click to enlarge image]

Honda Motor Co Ltd answered questions on its unofficial appointment of the new president at a press conference Feb 23, 2009. The respondents were Takanobu Ito, who was informally chosen to be the next president, and Takeo Fukui, who will retire from his current position of president and become advisor.

Q: When did you offer Ito the promotion to president? How did you speak to him about it?

Fukui: I thought a lot about when would be the best timing. Considering it might be better if he could take his time and think about it during the new-year holidays, I sounded him out about the appointment just before the holidays. I said to him, "It's about time to replace our president."

Q: Ito will also serve as president of Honda R&D Co Ltd (Honda's R&D subsidiary). What is the aim of that?

Fukui: I believe it is better for Honda in the long term if Honda R&D and Honda operate independently from each other. To ride out the current bleak situation or the next couple of years at any cost, however, timely business decisions and compact management are very important. For these reasons, we decided to appoint Ito as president of the two companies this time.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge you face as the new president?

Ito: I think it's how quickly we introduce the products and technologies that customers are after. The (hybrid) "Insight," which we launched recently, is becoming very popular, but it has always been Honda's specialty to provide quality cars with good fuel efficiency and environmental performance at a reasonable price.

Honda won't deviate from this path, I believe. My biggest duty is to do everything I can to fortify and accelerate our move in that direction.

Q: Weren't you concerned about the replacement of the president during an economic crisis like the one we are now in?

Fukui: We were not expecting severe circumstances in and after November 2008 when we considered replacing the president. In other words, we had already decided our course to a certain degree before then.

To be honest, I hesitated. (However,) we concluded that the timing was right, taking into consideration the acceleration and the growth that will come about after riding out this bleak time, also considering the fact that we had reexamined our course again and again.

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