Toyota’s chief executive officer and president, Akio Toyodo, will become its chairman.
He will be replaced as CEO by the car maker’s chief branding officer Koji Sato.
The reshuffle was announced without forewarning, though Toyota had a lively promotional video prepared to highlight Mr Toyoda and Mr Sato’s love for electric vehicles and fast cars.
Mr Sato, 53, has been managing the group’s Lexus brand operations and motor racing.
Mr Toyoda, grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, took over as CEO in 2009.
As chairman, he will replace Takeshi Uchiamada, who is giving up the title but will remain at the company as a representative director.