New Honda CEO Takahiro Higachi hopes to drive company in new direction

New Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo has vowed to turn the company around following the Takata airbag fiasco involving more than 20 million of its vehicles worldwide, ass well as questionable quality of some its popular vehicles in Japan such as the Fit hybrid.

Hachigo, an engineer who has worked in both the US and China was responsible for introducing the Odyssey mini van to North America in the mid 1990’s and for having it assembled in Canada.

“I love Honda, and I grew up in Honda,” he told the media during a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo that featured video footage of happy people with Honda products (including the Asimo walking robot) as ‘light-hearted” 50’s music played in the background. “I want to give back to Honda,” he emphasized purposefully.

Higacho, 55 who takes the reins from 62-year old Takanobu Ito has been with Honda since 1982, rising up the ranks and holding a series of key executive and R&D posts with the Japanese automaker in locations around the world, including overseeing the American R&D center before heading Honda’s European operations.

Meanwhile, Ito, who joined Honda in 1978 and worked his way up through the ranks in a similar fashion, will remain on board as a director and advisor. Although much of Honda’s reputation has taken hard hits of late, positive aspects of Ito’s leadership saw Honda bring back performance icons like the NSX and Civic Type R, launch innovative environmental technologies, re-enter Formula 1 racing, and wet its feet into the sphere of aerospace with the HondaJet.

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