Isuzu and Hino plan to increase production of trucks and core parts at their domestic plants in a bid to maintain their competitive edges overseas in the face of a persistently strong yen.

The Nikkei business newspaper has learned that Isuzu plans to increase its domestic production bases in fiscal 2012 ending next 31 March. The automaker will raise production capacity and increase its output of trucks and engine parts that it will supply to emerging markets.

Isuzu has recently announced expanded joint ventures in China building light and heavy trucks.

The truck and diesel engine specialist will spend about JPY26bn (US$318m)in its main Fujisawa plant in Kanagawa and another JPY4bn ($50m) on expanding its machine processing and assembly facilities at its Tochigi plant in Tochigi Prefecture.

The strategy is aimed at meeting reconstruction-related demand in areas devastated by last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan as well as growing demand in overseas markets, particularly Thailand, which had significant flooding in October last year.

Affiliated engine parts maker I Metal Technology will spend JPY3bn (USD38m) to install new casting component equipment. Isuzu Engine in Hokkaido plans to boost pickup truck parts for assembly in Thailand by 40% to an annual output of 400,000 units.

Meanwhile, medium and heavy truck maker Hino Motors has been building a new factory to manufacture core parts, such as vehicle bodies, in Koga, Ibaraki Prefecture, since last October. The company is also looking to set up a new engine plant in Ota, Gunma Prefecture, to supply parts to customers at home and abroad.

It takes more time to move truck production overseas, compared with passenger cars, as they are made in smaller numbers with so parts production volume is also smaller.

Isuzu and Hino believe that demand for trucks will continue to expand in southeast Asian countries and China.

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