Toyota Motor Corp. on April 12 named the head of its fast-growing North American operations as its first foreign director, reflecting the expanding global reach of Japan's largest automaker. American Jim Press, 60, who has steered Toyota through a phase of rapid expansion in the world's largest auto market, will join the board along with eight new Japanese directors, subject to shareholder approval in June.
The promotion of Press, who has worked for Toyota for more than three decades, is part of an effort by the Japanese giant to make its top management more international as it grows ever more reliant on overseas sales. "What we're trying to do is to heighten the level of our management on a global scale," said Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco. "We've been managing this company largely with Japanese-only management so we thought that we should probably turn to somebody who has, for example, a very long experience in our North American operations," he added.
Press is already Toyota's highest-ranking American and credited for much of its U.S. success. He started his career at Ford but left after less than two years, joining the Japanese automaker in 1970 and worked his way up the corporate ladder. He is already a managing officer at Toyota, just below the boardroom level, which now comprises 25 directors but will expand to 30 after the new appointments.
Under his watch, sales of Toyota's popular Prius hybrid, the luxury Lexus brand and the Camry have flourished in the U.S.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007