Sales brisk for large tourist buses in Japan

JIJI

Sales of large tourist buses in Japan have been strong on the back of the growing number of foreign visitors to the country.

The sale of new buses, including scheduled transport buses, in January-November that can seat 30 or more passengers came to 4,816 units, up 15 percent from a year earlier. Sales of large sightseeing buses, which account for about half of the total, grew some 17 percent during the period, according to industry sources.

Commercial vehicle-makers have been expanding bus production in an effort to ensure stable supplies.

Hino Motors Ltd. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. are manufacturing their sightseeing buses at J-Bus Ltd., a 50-50 joint venture based in Komatsu, Ishikawa Prefecture. The joint company started to increase production by 50 percent in November.

Demand has been robust thanks to the rising number of foreign visitors, a Hino official said, adding that the company is also benefiting from an increase in domestic travel. An Isuzu official noted that orders have reached a record level.

The pace of order receipts has been faster than that of production at Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp., a unit of German auto giant Daimler AG.

Delivery usually takes three to four months, but has expanded to about a year recently.

To speed up deliveries, Mitsubishi Fuso has increased the number of paint lines and workers at its plant in the city of Toyoma.

The company did manage to increase tourist bus production at the plant by 10 percent in autumn by getting workers to work overtime, but delivery still takes 10 months.