Mazda has appointed Kenichiro Saruwatari as the new Vice President in charge of its European Research & Development Centre in Oberursel, Germany. Saruwatari makes the move after almost five years as programme manager at Mazda Motor Corporation’s Product Division. There the 49-year-old engineer oversaw the Mazda3 programme, including the recently launched all-new generation of the company’s biggest selling model.

Saruwatari joined Mazda back in 1987 and has held a variety of posts at the company since, mainly in powertrain development, engineering and testing. Among other things, he played a key role over the years in advancing Mazda’s renowned engine technology. Saruwatari takes over from Ichiro Hirose, who will lead Mazda’s Powertrain Development Division as General Manager at Mazda Motor Corporation in Hiroshima, Japan.

“As a long-time powertrain professional, Kenichiro Saruwatari has intimate knowledge of what is the heart and soul of Mazda’s unconventional cars—and indeed the Mazda brand,” says Jeff Guyton, CEO & President Mazda Motor Europe. “So he is definitely the right man to lead our European R&D Centre into the future and will be a major asset for our development activities.”