TOKYO – Toyota has appointed James Kuffner, currently CEO of its automated driving and robotics division, to the Board of Directors in June, signaling a shift in President Akio Toyoda’s priorities from the old-school automotive industry to next-generation mobility.
Kuffner, 49, will be the second non-Japanese director on the Toyota board until he approves the company’s annual general meeting, which is expected to take place in June. He described his mission to develop self-driving cars for Toyota as the “moon shot” of his generation.
The American computer expert will retain his title as CEO of the Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development and assume a new title as Chief Digital Officer, the company said on Wednesday Press release. Kuffner is also appointed manager of the parent company. He is currently a senior fellow for R&D and engineering.
Kuffner replaced Didier Leroy, 62, the French Chief Competitive Officer who will give up this role. Leroy is the top non-Japanese manager at the country’s largest automaker. He will continue to chair Toyota’s European operations and remain an advisor to the parent company.
The other non-Japanese on the Toyota board is Philip Craven, an external independent director. He is from the UK and was President of the International Paralympic Committee.