Mazda Motor Corp. has appointed a new CEO just days after announcing its first annual profit in five years.
Production and purchasing guru Masamichi Kogai will assume the title of Mazda president and CEO from June 25, replacing Takashi Yamanouchi, who returned the Japanese manufacturer to profit last year after taking the reigns in difficult economic conditions in 2008.
Automotive News reports Kogai, 58, was rewarded for his involvement in the company’s ‘Mono Tsukuri’ program, which saw the car maker shift to a more cost-efficient manufacturing process – one of the keys to making the export-dependent company profitable despite challenging exchange rates.
Kogai has also been a key player in the introduction of fuel-saving Skyactiv drivetrain and chassis technologies, which are currently applied to the Mazda 3, Mazda 6 and CX-5 and destined for the rest of the line-up in the coming years.
Mazda recorded a global net profit of 34.3 billion yen ($339 million) for the 2012/2013 financial year ending March 31 – a significant turnaround after four years of losses, including a 108 billion yen ($1.07 billion) loss last year.
The company sold 1,053,262 vehicles last financial year, up 3.6 per cent over the previous 12 months – a result Yamanouchi said put Mazda on track to reach its goal of 1.7 million annual sales by the 2015/2016 financial year and an operating profit of 150 billion yen ($1.48 billion).
Yamanouchi was the first Japanese president of Mazda following the company’s breakaway from Ford, and assumed control of the company when it was losing money and struggling to remain competitive with larger global rivals.
Through bold share and bond sales and assembly plant restructuring, the outgoing president and CEO streamlined the company’s operations, championed its Skyactiv technology and signed an agreement to co-develop the next-generation MX-5 with Alfa Romeo.
Yamanouchi will retain his current post as chairman of the board.