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November 24, 2023

For The First Time, A Truck Maker Heads The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association

Isuzu Motors Chairman Masanori Katayama will take over as the head of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association or JAMA effective January 1, 2024. Current JAMA chairman, Akio Toyoda will step down after an unprecedented three terms leading the group.

Katayama’s appointment is the first time JAMA’s top job will be filled by the boss of a truck maker since the industry group’s founding in 1967. The chairmanship of JAMA usually rotates every two years between Japan’s three biggest carmakers — Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.

One reason for tapping Isuzu’s chairman was to inject more input from Japan’s trucking segment at a time when the country is facing serious logistical problems.

The first is an increasingly chronic labor shortage amid an aging population. The other is a labor law taking effect next year that restricts the work hours of such drivers.

Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida and Honda’s Toshihiro Mibe also serve as vice chairmen on JAMA’s new leadership team. So does Koji Sato, who took over as CEO of Toyota Motor this year.

Toyoda, 67, was first appointed chairman of JAMA in 2012, three years after he took over as president of the company his grandfather Kiichiro founded nearly 90 years ago. He took the wheel of the group again in 2018 and assumed an unprecedented third two-year term from May 2022.

As head of the world’s largest carmaker and Japan’s vast auto sector, Toyoda had a perfect platform to promote the interests of automakers and suppliers around the world. And as one of the industry’s longest-serving top executives, Toyoda brought long-term perspective and a steady hand as a kind of elder statesman in dealing with an often-topsy-turvy sector. Toyoda sometimes served as a counterpoint voice to new developments, such as the sudden ardor for autonomous driving technologies or the industry’s rapid plunge into electric vehicles.

Toyoda always pitched a balanced, multi-pronged approach to such trends.

At home, Toyoda promised to protect Japan’s automotive industry and its reputation as a world leader, even as critics wondered whether the country had lost its edge and fallen behind on EVs.

As JAMA chairman, however, Toyoda was always cognizant of his role in collectively representing 5.5 million employees from 14 of the country’s automobile manufacturers. Toyoda presented it as a challenge of guiding the industry through a “once-in-a-century change” as car manufacturers around the world aim to electrify their vehicles to counteract climate change.

Toyoda said he was able to help change the global dialogue about the transition to EVs and temper the urge among come global regulators to mandate a wholesale shift to EVs. Instead, there is greater appreciation for a diversified approach to achieving carbon neutrality.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder what Isuzu has to offer. I doubt it's going to be BEVs but rather FCEV.


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