Tokuo Fukuichi is set to become the first designer to sit on Toyota Motor Corporation’s board a when he assumes the role of president for Lexus International on April 1, 2014. The promotion comes just one year after Fukuichi was promoted to the senior managing officer position at the company.
Appointed chief officer for Toyota’s Design Group in 2011, Fukuichi is responsible for the entire range of current and future products — the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands all fall under his remit as do the company’s advanced design activities. Though this will not change in his move up the corporate ladder, he is slated to have more influence over decision makers on the board when he officially joins following a shareholders meeting in June.
The decision to appoint Fukuichi as president of Lexus International should not be taken lightly. It comes at a time when Toyota is trying vehemently to shake its conservative image and reflects the pace at which the company — and current president and CEO Akio Toyoda — want to enable design. In many ways it is similar to Hyundai Motor Corp. recognizing the potential of Peter Schreyer’s design led approach at Kia and deciding to appoint him president of the Korean company last year.
Lexus enjoyed a 16.8% sales increase in its home market in January, the company said in a statement. It is the fifth consecutive month that sales have increased in Japan. But the brand’s reign on the US market was put to an end in 2011 following 11 straight years as the luxury sales leader there. In order to regain its share in the all-important market, Lexus must continue to push design and product.
Fukuichi, who successfully held various positions in many design related divisions at Toyota since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in art and design from Tama Art University, is now tasked with getting the luxury brand’s crown back from rival BMW and Mercedes in the US as well as push forward the company’s initiatives in emerging markets.
Via: Automotive News (subs req)