Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Motor North America Announces His Retirement

Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Motor North America Announces His Retirement

Author: Eric Walz   

Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) announced today changes in its executive leadership designed to sustain its automotive operations and continue its transformation in the mobility space as its CEO announces his retirement.

Effective April 1, 2020 Jim Lentz, chief executive officer TMNA, will retire after a 38-year-long career with the automaker. Replacing Lentz is Tetsuo "Ted" Ogawa, chief operating officer TMNA, who will become TMNA's new CEO. Ogawa will report to Didier Leroy, TMNA Vice Chairman and president of business planning and operations, Toyota Motor Corporation.

Lentz joined Toyota in 1982 as the merchandising manager for its Portland region. He later became the distribution manager and field operations manager.

"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. I'm confident the future of Toyota is in good hands with these leaders and our 40,000 North American team members." said Lentz in a statement.

In his role as chief executive, Lentz oversees all business for Toyota's North America region, including manufacturing, research and development, sales, marketing, product support and corporate resources. 

Lentz was instrumental in moving Toyota's regional headquarters to Plano, Texas in 2017 as a way of uniting all of Toyota's affiliates in spread across California, New York and Kentucky to a single location.

In his 38-year long career at Toyota, Lentz has led and contributed to some important milestones in Toyota's history, including launching the Scion brand in 2003 in an effort to appeal to younger customers with a line of inexpensive, yet sporty compact vehicles. Scion was folded into the Toyota brand in Feb, 2016.


Jim Lentz announced the new Scion brand at the New York Auto Show in 2002. (Photo: Autoweek)

Lentz was also credited with forging stronger relationships with Toyota and Lexus dealers and financial services partners. Toyota and Lexus brands being recognized as leaders by consistently providing the best customer experience in the industry.

"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. He deserves a lot of credit for all he has accomplished in his many roles around the globe and he will be greatly missed," said Ogawa. "He 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."

Lentz was an advocate for the auto Industry in the U.S. and helping to champion the merger of the industry's trade associations. He was named "Marketer of the Year" by Advertising Age in 2006, an Automotive News "All Star" in 2007, honored at "Industry Leader of the Year" in 2014 by the Automotive Hall of Fame. Most recently, Lentz was named an All Star by Automotive News in 2017.

TMNA's new chief executive will focus on further transforming Toyota into a mobility company to better serve its customers. Ogawa will focus on modernizing TMNA's automotive operations to improve efficiency and speed and lead the company's transition into new areas of mobility, according to Toyota.

Lentz is leaving on a high note at Toyota. During his career at Toyota, the Camry sedan became an industry benchmark for quality and reliability. In 2018, the Camry sedan was the number one selling vehicle in the U.S., with 343,439 units sold. Sales of the Camry accounted for 15% of Toyota's total U.S. sales in 2018.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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