Akio Toyoda re-elected as Toyota Chairman with lowest-ever shareholder support

Toyota Motor Corp. Chairman Akio Toyoda reappointed with lowest shareholder support, facing opposition after safety probe into discrepancies and alleg
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Toyota
File photo of the Toyota signage at the company's showroom in Toyota City, Japan. (Bloomberg)
Toyota
File photo of the Toyota signage at the company's showroom in Toyota City, Japan.

Toyota Motor Corp. Chairman Akio Toyoda was reappointed with his lowest shareholder support on record after an ongoing vehicle safety probe drew opposition from foreign investors and sowed doubt in the company’s leadership.

Toyoda’s re-election received 71.93 per cent of the vote, according to a filing by Japan’s finance ministry on Wednesday, a day after Toyota’s annual shareholder meeting near its headquarters in Nagoya. The 68-year-old garnered 84.57 per cent last year, a sizeable drop from the 96 per cent of votes he claimed in 2022.

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A proposal urging Toyota to be more transparent about its lobbying efforts against climate policies received 9.17 per cent of votes. Last year, that motion got a positive reception of about 15 per cent.

Also Read : Toyota's Akio Toyoda under fire from shareholders amid testing scandals

Toyota was dealt a fresh set of regulatory troubles earlier this month when an internal probe revealed discrepancies in the vehicle-safety certifications of five Japanese automakers. The transport ministry suspended shipments of six vehicles, including three made by Toyota. Half a year earlier, similar issues at pair of Toyota affiliates drew heavy scrutiny to the world’s biggest carmaker.

In response, Toyoda held a press conference in January during which he claimed responsibility for the wrongdoings and urged the company and its other entities to “return to basics" to overcome the scandals.

Ongoing regulatory issues have overshadowed a banner year for Toyota as it navigates seismic shifts in the country’s economic landscape and significant change in the automobile industry as a whole.

Not keen on full electrification

Toyota-Toyoda
Under Akio Toyoda, Toyota has been slow to embrace electrification while other carmakers plan to phase out combustion engines altogether. (REUTERS)
Toyota-Toyoda
Under Akio Toyoda, Toyota has been slow to embrace electrification while other carmakers plan to phase out combustion engines altogether. (REUTERS)

Toyota has been slow to embrace electrification as many other carmakers pledge to totally phase out combustion engine cars. Instead, it sees a future where both electric and hybrid vehicles play a role.

While Toyota has been criticised for sticking to internal combustion engines and the promise of hydrogen fuel cells, its strategy has been vindicated somewhat by the recent downturn in electric vehicle sales growth and buoyant hybrid sales.

Last month, in a move to keep internal combustion engines relevant for longer, Toyota unveiled prototypes of so-called carbon neutral engines capable of running on different types of fuel.

Those bets on a multifaceted future have been paying off. Toyota became the first Japanese company to post an operating profit of more than five trillion yen ($31.7 billion) during the fiscal year that ended in March 2024.

The Japanese automaker also manufactured and sold over 11 million passenger cars last year, a record that cemented its position ahead of Volkswagen AG as the world’s No. 1 carmaker for a fourth straight year.

In an unrelated move to Toyota’s car business, two Japanese megabanks banks earlier this month revealed plans to divest ¥1.32 trillion of strategic shareholdings in the automaker, a major leap in the nation’s push to get big businesses to untangle their deep web of cross-held shares.

Toyota’s stock was trading 1.8 per cent higher on Wednesday. The shares have risen almost 20 per cent this year.

First Published Date: 19 Jun 2024, 13:30 PM IST
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