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Former GM official aims to help Toyota act quicker

Hogan is company’s 1st director from outside


Toyota Motor Corp. board member Mark Hogan speaks during his first news conference as a director at the Japanese automaker’s office in Nagoya, Japan. He said he meets monthly with Toyota President Akio Toyoda to share ideas.


NAGOYA, Japan — Mark Hogan, a former General Motors Co. executive tapped to join the Toyota board, sees his appointment as a sign of change at the Japanese automaker and hopes he’ll help the company become less insular and quicker in decision making.

Mr. Hogan’s appointment, announced in March and approved by shareholders last month, is the first time in Toyota’s 76-year history that it has appointed a director from outside the company.

His arrival underlines efforts at Toyota Motor Corp. under President Akio Toyoda to become more international, transparent, and nimble as it recovers from recent difficult years, including a massive recall fiasco in the United States.

“I give Akio a lot of credit for having the leadership to do that,” he told reporters Tuesday at Toyota’s Nagoya office. “I see my role as listening to global voices outside of Japan and sharing insights that will help Toyota respond more quickly to changes in society,” Mr. Hogan said.

When asked if he would have advised Toyota to do anything differently during the massive recall in the United States, Mr. Hogan emphasized that recall woes were not unique to Toyota. He said the lesson learned for Toyota was that a crisis needs a speedy response.

Mr. Hogan, an American, joined GM in 1973, and became group vice president in 2002. He worked with Mr. Toyoda more than a decade ago at NUMMI, or New United Motor Manufacturing, a California auto plant jointly run by Toyota and GM. During his first news conference as a board member, Mr. Hogan, 62, emphasized his friendship with Mr. Toyoda.

Issei Takahashi, a Credit Suisse analyst, said having someone close to GM on Toyota’s board may help it lobby against protectionist efforts.

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