Toyota Motor North America Announces Executive Changes

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June 30, 2023 (press release) –

PLANO, Texas (June 30, 2023) – Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) today announced executive changes designed to drive continued growth, advance its commitment to vehicle electrification and building where it sells, and prepare for the future of mobility. The following Research & Development, Manufacturing and Product Support changes are effective July 3, 2023.


Mike Sweers, senior vice president, Product Development Office and Global Truck executive chief engineer, has been promoted to executive vice president, Toyota Motor North America, Research & Development (TMNA R&D) and chief technology officer, reporting to Ted Ogawa, CEO, TMNA. Sweers will be responsible for North American vehicle research and development. He is also appointed to the TMNA North American Executive Committee. Sweers assumes the core responsibilities previously held by Shinichi Yasui as the head of R&D and who recently became Chief Project Leader, Hydrogen Factory, at Toyota Motor Corporation.

Susan Elkington, president, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), has been promoted to senior vice president, Electric Vehicle Supply. In this newly created role, Susan will be responsible for accelerating the company’s electrified transformation, with a focus on battery and electric vehicle production and supply strategy. Elkington will report to Takefumi Shiga, executive vice president, Engineering and Manufacturing, TMNA.

Kerry Creech, vice president, Manufacturing, TMMK, has been promoted to president, TMMK. In this role, Kerry will oversee Toyota’s largest plant in the world as it prepares for future BEV production. Creech will report to Elkington.

New Assignments:

Chris Nielsen, executive vice president, Product Support and chief quality officer, TMNA, and member of the TMNA North American Executive Committee, assumes additional responsibility for North American purchasing and supplier development. Robert Young, group vice president, Purchasing Supplier Development, will report to Nielsen.

Norm Bafunno, senior vice president, Unit Manufacturing and Engineering, assumes the title of Senior Manufacturing Executive. In this expanded role, he will advise Shiga, helping lead the company’s manufacturing transformation strategy while continuing his responsibilities overseeing all North American unit plants. Bafunno will continue to report to Shiga.

About Toyota

Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in North America for more than 65 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands, plus our more than 1,800 dealerships. 

Toyota directly employs more than 48,000 people in North America who have contributed to the design, engineering, and assembly of nearly 45 million cars and trucks at our 13 manufacturing plants. By 2025, Toyota’s 14th plant in North Carolina will begin to manufacture automotive batteries for electrified vehicles. With more electrified vehicles on the road than any other automaker, Toyota currently offers 22 electrified options.

Through the Start Your Impossible campaign, Toyota highlights the way it partners with community, civic, academic and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We believe that when people are free to move, anything is possible. For more information about Toyota, visit


For more than 50 years, Toyota Motor North America Research & Development (TMNA R&D) has led engineering for several of the best-selling Toyota vehicles on U.S. roads. Teams are now creating both next-generation vehicles and new and advanced mobility concepts that can better move people, goods and information. Toyota’s innovation has produced more patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office than any other automaker for the past 9 consecutive years (3,056 in 2022). Centered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, TMNA R&D is pursuing Toyota’s mission to “Produce Happiness for All” by making life safer, easier and more enjoyable. Globally, Toyota spends approximately $1 million per hour on R&D to ensure that Toyota rapidly and continuously develops cutting-edge, high-quality, and appealing vehicles.

Ed Hellwig

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