TOKYO - Japan's commercial truckmakers are predicting a healthy rebound in home-market sales in 2000, based on expectations of a general economic recovery in Japan.
To be sure, their market couldn't get much worse.
In 1999, total sales of Japan-built trucks with a loading capacity of four tons or more came to 77,600, slipping below 80,000 units for the first time in 34 years.
Forecasts for the total market in 2000 range from a low of 80,000 seen by Hino Motors Ltd., to a high of 89,000 seen by Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
Indeed, Mitsubishi is predicting that its commercial truck sales will surge 13.6 percent to 25,000. Mitsubishi thus is predicting it will surpass perennial market leader Hino.
Hino, a member of the Toyota Group, sees its sales rising 5.3 percent to 24,000.
Isuzu Motors Ltd. is forecasting that its sales will climb 6.8 percent to 18,800, while market laggard Nissan Diesel Motors Co. boldly predicts its sales will jump 13.3 percent to 15,800.
Separately, Hino President Hiroshi Yuasa told reporters during a New Year's reception that Hino is exploring the possibility of selling engines for use in large trucks to an unnamed U.S. truckmaker.
He said he hopes to conclude an agreement in 2000. It would be the first engine sale by Hino to another truckmaker.