Even so, with Ito now at the helm, Honda is looking for a new direction.
Honda needs to regroup and recapture the spirit of the past, said Ito, who is heading up both Honda and its engineering division, Honda R&D, so that quick decisions can be made and forced through to combat the current crisis.
Insiders say Ito has already moved swiftly to shake up Honda's future product line for the better, although the first fruits of this revolution will likely be two to three years away at the soonest.
Ito takes over from Takeo Fukui, who had been Honda president for the past six years. Unusually for Honda CEOs, Ito is not an engine guy. Instead, he climbed the ladder as a chassis designer and in the late 1980s was put in charge of developing the all-aluminum body for the groundbreaking Acura NSX supercoupe.
He has also worked in the U.S., where he was actively involved in the creation of the first Acura MDX. In 2007, Ito became Honda's COO for automobile operations.
Inside Line says: Honda over the past decade has grown to become a hugely successful world-class company, but still, many feel some of the Honda spirit of the past has been lost. With luck, some of that will now come back. — Peter Nunn, Correspondent