Toyota is taking bold steps towards increasing gender diversity. As Lexus’s first chief female engineer, it was a no-brainer to promote Chika Kako to the role of executive vice president at Lexus.

Toyota is taking bold moves in shifting leadership around in its company and promoting both outsides of Japan and away from traditional male leadership roles. According to Auto News on their report on this major shift within Japan’s largest car company, they dropped earlier today (Nov. 11, 2017) amongst the major shifting pieces of this puzzle is the promotion of Lexus’s first female chief engineer, Chika Kako, most known for her work on the Lexus CT 200h (a model that has since been discontinued.)

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Akio Toyoda’s speech to the company was underlined by the mindset that Toyota must change in response to an ever-changing automotive landscape. No longer were the traditional big car manufacturers guaranteed a top spot in sales in the coming years. The writing was on the wall for massive change towards hybridization, electrification, and autonomous technology in the face of a shrinking fossil fuels future. As such, fresh ideas from outside the traditional thinking of the company, Toyoda is counting on, will come from females and non-Japanese.

Sales of Lexus cars as of late have been steady with sales hovering around 330,000 units annually. Sales have been following the almost predictable trend towards popular crossovers with their best-selling RX and NX series of luxury SUV’s. Following close behind in a distant third is their ES lineup of cars. But to survive and thrive in a new generation of smaller engines, turbocharging, and electrification, Toyoda thinks it would behoove the luxury company to have a female at the wheel.

Kako originally joined Toyota back in 1989 working as a materials engineer for Toyota with her expertizes being interiors and exteriors. Kako also played a major role in the development of the Lexus RX and IS, both lines that continue to this day, selling well. On her work with the Lexus CT200h, she led a team of engineers to not only develop and produce a best selling luxury hybrid subcompact but oversaw its mid-cycle refresh that saw the CT200h get a boost in refinement and sportiness.

Kako’s promotion will definitely not be just a symbolic gesture but a strategic promotion that will see Lexus dominate the likes of Acura and Infiniti in its home market and around the world.

I’ll be keen to see where Lexus goes from here and how the company grows as time goes on


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