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Toyota Sees Deeper Ties Between Group Truck Firms

The head of Toyota Motor, the world's biggest automaker, said on Thursday he expects further cooperation between truck affiliates Isuzu Motors and Hino Motors to better compete in global markets.

Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe also told a news conference he expects his company's sales in the United States to outperform the overall market in August, though he said there would be some impact on auto demand from the subprime loan problem.

Watanabe acknowledged that Hino and Isuzu were small players in the global truck industry, which is dominated by DaimlerChrysler and Volvo, and that more cooperation within its truck group was crucial to compete outside of Japan.

Asked if full integration between the two truck makers was a possibility, Watanabe told reporters: "If it's between 1% and 100%, the chances would be closer to the lower end."

Toyota owns just over half of Hino and 5.9% of Isuzu.

Watanabe said U.S. economic fundamentals were strong and Toyota's U.S. sales this month would likely be better than those of other automakers.

"July was a bit weak due to various factors including subprime loan problems and high oil prices," Watanabe said at the news conference to introduce the new Vanguard sport utility vehicle.

Toyota, the world's most profitable carmaker, is due to brief on its short-term business plans on Friday.