Naoki Okano has been promoted to vice president of the Alabama Business Unit by Mazda North American Operations. He previously served as program manager of the CX-50, the Mazda vehicle in production at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing in Huntsville.
Okano will assume ultimate responsibility for working with suppliers, handling logistics for the plant and managing quality assurance. He starts the role April 1.
“Since having worked as the CX-50 program manager, it is now very rewarding to be responsible for its success as it is built for mass production in Mazda’s new plant,” said Okano. “It is an honor to take on this new opportunity and responsibility for MTM as we create employment opportunities for the Huntsville community and contribute to the American economy.”
Okano succeeds Masashi Otsuka, who previously served as the lead for the Alabama Business Unit. Otsuka will return to Mazda’s corporate office in Hiroshima, Japan, in a senior leadership role.
“I want to thank Masashi Otsuka for an outstanding job building our new Alabama operation from the ground up, including developing a stellar Mazda team to support MTM,” said Jeff Guyton, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations. “As Naoki Okano takes the reins, I’m excited to see the continued success of MTM as CX-50 rolls off the Discovery Line and into Mazda dealerships throughout the country.”
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing started production of the CX-50 in late January. The $2.3 billion plant is a joint venture between Mazda and Toyota, where approximately 150,000 of the CX-50 and 150,000 of Toyota’s Corolla Cross will be produced, when the plant is running at full capacity. The Mazda CX-50 is designed for the North American market, aimed at customers with an active and outdoor lifestyle. The vehicle is expected to be available in dealerships this spring.