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Honda's President Resigns, After A Troubled Year For Carmaker

Honda Motor Co., which has struggled with an air bag safety recall and a sales slump, will get a new chief executive this year. Takanobu Ito, who has led Honda since 2009, will leave in June, giving way to Takahiro Hachigo, an executive who began his career as an engineer.

Ito, who has worked at Honda since the late 1970s, will reportedly remain with the company both as an advisor and as a board member. Announcing the move Monday, Honda did not connect Ito's move to the carmaker's recent problems, which range from safety issues to lackluster sales.

Today Ito said (via CNN Money): "Going forward, changes will be coming up more and more rapidly, competition will be more severe, so I think now is a good time to change the management to a younger generation so as to revamp our whole operations."

Kyodo News reports:

"Japan's third-biggest carmaker has been mired in quality problems over the past year, including the global recall of vehicles equipped with potentially lethal air bag inflators supplied by Takata Corp.

"Ito, 61, who is to become a company adviser and remain on Honda's board, will be succeeded by 55-year-old managing officer Hachigo following the company's annual shareholders' meeting in June, the company said."

Last month, the company was fined $70 million by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to report deaths and other information about vehicles made between 2003 and 2014.

Last fall, Ito and other Honda executives took a pay cut after the latest in a series of recalls.

In the company's 2014 report, Reuters notes, "Honda last month trimmed its core annual profit forecast as it set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to cover mass recalls to replace air bag inflators made by Takata Corp that have been linked to six deaths, all in Honda cars."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.