Van den Acker was responsible for three of Mazda's most daring concepts: the Nagare, Ryuga and Hakaze, so Maeda will have some large shoes to fill. Nonetheless, Mazda is confident Maeda will be up to the task.
Maeda has already been deeply involved with Mazda design, working for the company in various positions since 1982 and chief of Mazda's Japanese design unit since 2000 - so he won't have to learn a new language. Instead, he'll get to focus on evolving it.
Seita Kanai, senior executive officer of research and design said in a statement, "Maeda-san has played a pivotal role in the success that Mazda Design has experienced globally. His local and global experience make him well-qualified to take Mazda design to the next stage."
Maeda's resume at Mazda already includes the RX-8 and the Mazda2, so there's good reason to believe he'll be well-suited to the task.