Jim Lentz with the Toyota NS4 Concept
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Toyota names American Jim Lentz CEO

Toyota Motor Corporation has announced a variety of management changes in North America, including naming long time team member Jim Lentz the new Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Motor Sales – marking the first time that an American has held the position of CEO with Toyota.

Jim Lentz (shown on the right with the NS4 Concept) has been with Toyota Motor Co for some 30 years, has most recently served as the president and chief operating officer (COO) of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) but effective April 1st 2012, Lentz will be named the chief executive officer (CEO) while also retaining his position of TMS president. The 56 year old Lentz is the first American to hold the position of CEO of Sales within Toyota Motor Co. but with the steady growth of Toyota in the United States – the decision to bring an American to the level of CEO doesn’t come as a big surprise.

The move to make the American Jim Lentz president of TMS shows a commitment to the company’s long-time management members who don’t come from their home country even though the majority of their management is Japanese. This could also work in Toyota’s favor in terms of advertising and marketing as the company now has a high ranking management member who is American. Toyota has angled their marketing to stress the fact that many of the most popular vehicles (including the bestselling Camry) are built in the United States and having an American born boss allows Toyota to put another feather in their cap in terms of pushing the “American” angle.

In addition to the move by Lentz to CEO, Toyota announced a handful of other management changes for Toyota Motors North America (TMA). Mr. Shigeki Terashi will become the president and chief operating officer of TMA effective April 1st. Terashi follows in the footsteps of current president and COO Yoshi Inaba, who will remain with Toyota to assist Mr. Terashi while also moving to serve as the chairman of Toyota Motor Sales. Terashi currently serves as the president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing for North America, having joined the company in 1980 with early tasks including working on the development of the popular Toyota Camry. Prior to taking his role as president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing for North America, Terashi oversaw the Toyota Technical Center and aided in the development of models like the Venza and Sienna.

Finally, senior vice president of North American business planning Massy Tomozoe will be leaving his role in North America and heading back to Japan to fill a role that has not yet been announced.

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