A 'new young leader' will take over the helm at Honda Motors, after CEO Takanobu Ito announced he was stepping down. Katie Gregory takes a look at what this surprise change of leadership means for one of Japan's top automakers.
A surprise announcement from a Japanese auto giant. Honda Motors CEO Takanobu Ito says he'll step down from the top job at the end of June. His replacement, Takahiro Hachigo, an engineer and research specialist, skipping several ranks to take over as chief executive. Ito says it was time for a new young leader. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) HONDA MOTOR CO. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, TAKANOBU ITO, SAYING: "We hope that Hachigo will make use of his experience and knowledge which he has gathered up till now and grow the individual businesses in various regions and expand our global operations." Ito's six years in charge of Honda haven't been easy. The financial crisis hit the auto industry hard, more recently, millions of vehicle recalls have taken a toll on the company's image. Add to that the fallout from natural disasters in Japan and Thailand, and it's been a rocky few years. Ito's efforts to re-vamp Honda's technology and cut costs haven't always been popular either. But Hachigo says Honda will carry on Ito's legacy. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) HONDA MOTOR CO. MANAGING OFFICER, TAKAHIRO HACHIGO, SAYING: "We will continue to pursue cutting-edge technologies and feed this back to our mass-produced cars and in developing human resources. We hope to be able to answer your expectations." Insiders have told Reuters that some retired Honda executives had campaigned to have Ito removed But he'll remain on the company board and take on a new role as an advisor.