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by Matt Brogan

Akio Toyoda, scion of Toyota’s founding family, will now become its next president as the manufacturer struggles against the global economic crisis.

Toyoda, 53, will succeed current president Katsuaki Watanabe in June to become the youngest president in the company’s history.

An affable motor racing fan Toyoda hopes to rescue the national icon and said he hopes to someday be seen as the flag that rallied a corporate comeback.

In the meantime, the Toyoda heir will inject an international outlook into the company having being educated in the US. Given the company’s overseas operations, including the United States, now account for most of its sales and are contributing to the first operating loss in 70 years, Toyota is tapping its dynastic roots for new direction in uncharted waters.

“Innovative and youthful ideas will be required.” Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho said, “We need a new generation to make bold change and reform.”

Indeed, today’s Toyota would be unrecognisable to Akio’s grandfather Kiichiro, who founded the car maker in 1937, or his father Shoichiro, himself a president from 1981 to 1992.

Akio Toyoda will be the first Toyoda to become president since 1995, when his uncle Tatsuro Toyoda stepped down but must yet be formally approved for the position at a June board meeting. Mr Watanabe will then become vice chairman.




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