AFP reports that Isuzu Motors said Thursday it returned to the black in the year to March as tighter emission controls boosted replacement demand for diesel trucks in major Japanese cities.

The truck maker, 12.04 percent owned by US auto giant General Motors Corp., reported a group net profit of 54.7 billion yen (484 million dollars), reversing a net loss of 144.3 billion yen the previous year, AFP said.

Domestic vehicle sales surged 66.5 percent to 103,027 units “as the domestic truck market expanded on demand to replace trucks following the tightening of regulations on exhaust emissions.”

New regulations introduced by Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures last October require diesel trucks over seven years old to be replaced or undergo expensive modification to reduce emissions.

Cost reductions in both North America and Japan also contributed to the profit gain, Isuzu added.

Isuzu forecast smaller profit and sales for the current year to March 2005, projecting a net profit of 50 billion yen, recurring profit of 65 billion yen on sales of 1.35 trillion yen.