Mazda President and CEO Akira Marumoto will step down in June if shareholders approve his successor. The automaker announced Friday that it would appoint Masahiro Moro to the position.
Shareholders will have to approve the newly proposed management structure before Moro assumes his new role. He currently serves as the automaker's director and senior managing executive officer. Moro has been at Mazda for 40 years, recently leading North American operations. Marumoto became CEO in 2018 and will become a senior advisor when he steps down.
Gallery: 2024 Mazda CX-90
According to Nikkei Asia, Moro is the first CEO in recent years who does not have a background in engineering or production. However, he successfully rebuilt Mazda's US operations, a market that the company wants to grow. It will focus on upgrading its dealer network to boost the number of sales per outlet in the country, which accounts for about 30 percent of its global sales.
The automaker recently launched two new crossovers aimed at conquering the US market. The CX-50 is a rugged-looking model with a square-ish face and all the plastic cladding needed to tackle suburbia. Above that is the new CX-90 which serves as a premium offering from the automaker. It's rear-wheel drive with a 340-horsepower 3.3-liter inline-six engine under the hood. Mazda has been pushing its products upmarket, and the CX-90 exemplifies those efforts.
Moro will also lead the company as it transitions to building battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Right now, the company is still in phase 1 of its Mid-Term Management Plan, which sees the automaker use internal combustion engines, hybrids, plug-ins, and BEVs in vehicles. The company will transition to phase 2 in 2025, introducing a new hybrid system alongside new BEVs.
Mazda will enter the plan's third phase in 2028, which will be the year the company begins a full-scale launch of EVs. Underpinning Mazda's efforts will be a new scalable architecture, which should power several models.
The company faces an unknown future like others in the industry, but Mazda's small-player status makes it especially vulnerable. Unlike other automakers, it hasn't committed to going all-electric by the decade's end. It's not a cheap transition for car companies.