Honda Motor (HMC -1.50%) will soon have a new president and CEO. Toshihiro Mibe, who has led Honda's research and development unit since 2019, will take the top job when Honda's new fiscal year begins on April 1, the company confirmed on Friday.

Mibe will replace the well-regarded Takahiro Hachigo, who is retiring after a six-year run. Hachigo led the company through a series of internal reforms that are credited with improving its products and overall competitiveness. 

In a statement, Hachigo said that with those reforms now complete, the time was right to "hand over the baton of presidency" to Mibe so that the re-formed Honda "can take off toward the new era under new leadership."

At a news conference in Tokyo, Mibe said that Honda will be more open to alliances with other companies under his leadership. 

Hachigo with a prototype Honda electric vehicle in 2017.

Retiring CEO Takahiro Hachigo, who led Honda through a series of crucial reforms and jump-started its EV program. He will soon hand off the role to R&D chief Toshihiro Mibe, the company announced on Friday. Image source: Honda Motor.

"Time is of the essence," as Honda faces major industry changes, Mibe said, "and I would opt to use alliances and external insight to accelerate our shift." 

Despite Hachigo's efforts, Honda still lags behind global rivals like Volkswagen (VWAGY -2.15%) and General Motors (GM -1.73%) in bringing zero-emissions vehicles and advanced driver-assist systems to market. While Hachigo successfully entered alliances with GM and its Cruise self-driving subsidiary around electric vehicles and self-driving, there's more work to be done to ensure that Honda remains competitive well into the future. 

That work will now fall to Mibe, who won the promotion in part because of his expertise around green technologies, the company said. 

Hachigo will remain on Honda's board of directors.