Mr. Lentz, 52, was named exec VP in June 2006. A spokesman at Toyota said Mr. Lentz had been performing many of the duties of president, a post vacated in May 2006, when Jim Press moved to Toyota Motor North America, the automaker's sales and manufacturing holding company in Manhattan. (Mr. Press left Toyota in September to become vice chairman of the "new" Chrysler.)
No plans to replace Lentz
Mr. Lentz will now spend more time interacting with Toyota's board of directors in Japan, the spokesman said, adding there are no plans at this time to fill his empty slot. Don Esmond, senior VP-automotive operations, will assume many of Mr. Lentz's day-to-day duties, such as dealer relations plus pricing strategies for Toyota, Scion and Lexus, the spokesman said.
"Jim Lentz is especially well qualified to lead TMS into the future as it marks 50 years in America," Chairman Yuki Funo said in a prepared statement. "His experience spans all major operational areas and he has an outstanding sense of what our customers, dealers and associates expect from Toyota."
Mr. Lentz joined Toyota in 1982 and has served in a variety of positions including group VP-marketing of the Toyota Division. He was also the VP who launched Scion and general manager of Toyota Division overseeing all sales, logistics and marketing activities.
The automaker also promoted Dian Ogilvie from senior VP-general counsel and chief environmental officer of Toyota to senior VP-secretary of the holding company, where she will report to President Shigeru Hayakawa. She is the highest-ranking female at Toyota and will now be responsible for administration, corporate communications, industry and government affairs, planning, research, environmental affairs and diversity.
Her successor is Christopher Reynolds, who joined Toyota Motor Sales USA in July 2006 from Manhattan law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.