New Delhi: Suzuki Motor Corp., the Japanese parent of India’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, on Tuesday named Toshihiro Suzuki as its new president. He will replace his father Osamu Suzuki, who has been at the helm of Japan’s fourth largest automaker since 1978.

Executive vice-president Toshihiro Suzuki, 56, took over the role from his father Osamu Suzuki as president and chief operating officer effective Tuesday. Osamu Suzuki will remain as CEO and chairman.

Born Osamu Matsuda, he joined the automaker in 1958 after marrying into the family. During his nearly four decades at the helm, Suzuki turned the loom maker founded by his wife’s grandfather into one of the world’s biggest automakers, blazing the trail into the Indian market in the early 1980s.

According to R.C. Bhargava, chairman of the Indian unit, the move is well-timed and augurs well for the Indian operations. “Leadership has to passed to the younger people," Bhargava said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “The Indian operations will look for continuity in policies and strategies."

To be sure, Toshihiro Suzuki has been on the board of Maruti since 2013. “(Toshihiro) Suzuki has been quite involved in the Indian operations for the last two years, attending all the board meetings and important announcements," Bhargava said.

In a interview to Mint in January, Toshihiro Suzuki said that India remains a very big market for the company. “We would like to hold 50% market share if possible... it’s tough," he said. He said the Japanese auto maker expects the Indian passenger car market to reach four million units by 2020, up from 1.8 million units in 2013-14.

Through its Indian subsidiary, Suzuki Motor plans to introduce 10 new models in India and aims to control 50% of the local passenger car market by 2020. India remains Suzuki’s biggest market after Japan and contributes more than 30% to its consolidated profit.

Through Maruti Suzuki India, the company is the top-selling automaker in India and has a market capitalization of 2.24 trillion yen ($18.3 billion), roughly equal to that of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Toshihiro Suzuki is also considered to the be the brain behind Suzuki’s expansion in Gujarat from where the company plans to export automobiles to Africa, its next big bet.

Osamu Suzuki had previously attempted to groom his son-in-law Hirotaka Ono to succeed him, but that plan was derailed when Ono died of pancreatic cancer in 2007.

Two other executives had briefly held the post of president in the 2000s. Both resigned after a few years, citing health reasons.

In 2011, Toshihiro Suzuki was named one of Suzuki Motor’s four executive vice-presidents, raising speculation that he would eventually take the top post. Before joining Suzuki Motor in 1994, he had worked at the company that became Denso Corp.

Fellow executive vice-president Yasuhito Harayama will be the vice-chairman, Suzuki Motor said in a statement.

The company on Tuesday also laid out financial targets under a new five-year business plan, including a goal to raise revenue to a record in the year ending March 2020, Reuters reported.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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