It’s no secret that Honda has been in trouble recently, thanks in large part to the massive Takata airbag recalls. While the shrapnel-shooting safety devices have been used in a number of vehicle brands, Honda has taken the biggest hit in the fallout with the largest number of recalled models. On top of that, the company was fined $70 million by the U.S. government for failure to report death and injury claims, which is a record amount.
In these turbulent times, Takanobu Ito is out as the company’s CEO. Even though Honda’s not saying there’s a connection, many are linking it to the recall and government fine. The Honda name has been drug through the mud as a result, triggering poor sales as the company reported a mere 1 percent growth in sales for 2014. Some industry experts are even predicting that Honda sales will be a negative percentage in 2015, which is something that would’ve been inconceivable not long ago.
Ito has been with Honda since 1978, coming on first as a chassis design engineer for the R&D department. He’s been CEO for six years, which is actually a typical time period for the position. Under his watch Honda has been able to overcome quite a few troubling situations, helping sharpen up questionable designs and quality control issues. He also pushed the company toward all-around improved performance, promoting vehicles like the new Acura NSX and Honda Civic Type-R. He steered the automaker through a devastating tsunami in Japan, pushed for more factories worldwide and navigated wildly fluctuating currency exchange rates.
Automotive News is reporting that Ito himself said that his departure was triggered by Honda’s need to be led by a younger management team. His successor is Takahiro Hachigo, who has been with the company since 1982. Ito will still remain on the board of directors in a role as an advisor.
Perhaps under Hachigo’s direction Honda will finally drop the weird Acura grille. One can only hope.