A report in Japan’s Nikkei newspaper cited by Automotive News claims that the father of the Prius, Takeshi Uchiyamada, will take the role of chairman at Toyota. Currently Toyota’s vice chairman, Uchiyamada joined the automaker in 1969, and in 1994 became the chief engineer of the Vehicle Development Center that birthed The Hybrid to Rule Them All. He said of it, “When we started, the purpose wasn’t to do a specific car project. It was to make a vehicle suitable for the 21st century.” A specialist in vehicle noise, vibration and harshness, Uchiyamada’s leadership on the Prius helped continue his quiet run to the top of the company; he remains a huge fan of hybrids, but has been reticent about the place of electric vehicles in the current marketplace.
If the move is confirmed - it might happen as soon as this year, according to Reuters - Uchiyamada would replace Fujio Cho, Toyota’s chairman for the past six years, who would move to an advisory role. Cho spent seven years overseeing Toyota’s manufacturing operations in Kentucky as well as spearheading manufacturing efforts in Texas, France and China. Company president Akio Toyoda would maintain day-to-day charge of Toyota.