TOKYO - Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Hino Motors Ltd. said they plan to combine their bus operations within three years and will explore opportunities to work together in trucks as well.
General Motors owns 49 percent of Isuzu, while Toyota Motor Corp. owns 20 percent of Hino.
Cost pressures are driving the bus merger.
'The deteriorating revenue of the bus segment has even threat- ened the continuation of the bus business for both companies,' the two truckmakers said in a statement.
Bus sales in Japan are at roughly half the peak sales volumes of the late 1980s.
Hino and Isuzu plan to maintain separate brands and sales channels for buses.
'We shall have to find ways to manage our business so that we both cooperate and compete,' Isuzu President Takeshi Inoo said at a press conference.
In 1998, the two companies held a combined 49 percent share of the Japanese market for buses seating 30 people or more. Including smaller buses, Hino sold 2,400 and Isuzu sold 1,281.
Hino President Hiroshi Yuasa said the companies had not received any indication from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry as to whether the bus combination would clear Japan's anti-monopoly law. But he noted that in discussions with the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, MITI has supported the industry's restructuring efforts.