Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz to Retire in April

Lentz spent 38 years at Toyota, which included leading the North American headquarters move from California to Plano. Chief Operating Officer Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa will succeed Lentz.

Jim Lentz, who led Toyota Motor North America’s headquarters move from California to Plano, is retiring as chief executive officer, the automaker announced Wednesday.

Chief Operating Officer Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa will succeed Lentz as CEO, effective April 1. He will report to Didier Leroy, Toyota Motor North American vice chairman and president of business planning and operations for Japan-based Toyota Motor Corp.

“After finalizing our One Toyota consolidation and laying the groundwork for the future of mobility, now is the time for a new leadership team to take the next steps to help further transform Toyota,” Lentz said in a statement.

During his 38-year career, Lentz has led and contributed to a a number of milestones and important moments in Toyota’s history. The company said he’s been a positive voice for the U.S. auto industry, helping to champion the merger of the industry’s trade associations.

“Jim Lentz has had an incredible impact on our company. He has been an outstanding leader and was instrumental in restructuring the company and bringing together our North American region,” Ogawa said in a statement. “He deserves a lot of credit for all he has accomplished in his many roles around the globe and he will be greatly missed.”

Lentz launched the Scion brand, capturing the next generation of customers with new innovative products and services. He strengthened the relationship with Toyota and Lexus dealers and financial services partners, helping make both brands recognized leaders in the customer experience.

Most importantly though, Lentz ran point on moving Toyota’s North American headquarters in 2017 from Torrance, California to a 100-acre site in the Legacy West development of Plano. He consolidated and restructured operations, rallying employees to embody “One Toyota.”

In August, Toyota punctuated the final phase of its headquarters move with a 44,000-square-foot Experience Center dedicated to what the company values most: its employees. Lentz led the grand opening, emphasizing the collaborative teamwork that Toyota places such high value on.

Toyota

This summer, Lentz hosted the grand opening of the new Toyota Experience Center. [Photo: Courtesy Toyota]

“It’s a great demonstration to all of our new team members, as well as the team members that have been here a long, long time like myself, of who we are as a company, what our core values are as a company, and what we’ve been able to accomplish together,” he said at the time. “The TEC now and in the future will demonstrate how continuous improvement and transformation is part of Toyota’s DNA.”

Ogawa, who joined Toyota in 1984, praised his predecessor. To him, Lentz “leaves a legacy that helped build a stronger, more unified Toyota that is prepared to face the future of mobility, and I am humbled and excited to continue working with the Toyota leadership team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant company.”

Prior to his current role, Ogawa was executive vice president and chief administrative officer in North America. He’s also served as deputy chief executive officer of the China Region and president of Toyota Motor China Investment Company, Ltd.

Toyota said that Ogawa will focus on further transforming Toyota into a mobility company to better serve customers, in and beyond the automotive industry. This includes modernizing North American operations, strengthening execution, and leading the transition into new mobility areas.

Tetsuo Ogawa, along with our executive leadership team, are all part of a deep bench with a proven track record of delivering results and a relentless focus on our customers,” Lentz said in a statement. “I’m confident the future of Toyota is in good hands with these leaders and our 40,000 North American team members.”

Alex Edwards contributed to this report.

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