Hino Motors Ltd. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. said Wednesday they have set up a 50-50 preparatory firm ahead of the integration of their bus manufacturing operations next year.

The automakers announced the merger plan in January.

They plan to integrate the preparatory company J-Bus Ltd. with their relevant subsidiaries — Isuzu Bus Manufacturing Ltd. and Hino Auto Body Ltd. — next October to launch joint bus-production operations.

Tokyo-based J-Bus is capitalized at 20 million yen.

In announcing the plan in January, Hino, a bus- and truck-making unit of Toyota Motor Corp., and Isuzu, which is 12 percent owned by General Motors Corp., said the merger is aimed at cutting costs and boosting performance.

On Monday, Hino announced that it will split Yokohama-based Hino Auto Body into a bus manufacturer and a truck assembly firm.

Hino Auto Body will continue to operate the bus business, while Hino Motors will inherit the truck business until it establishes a new firm, dubbed Trantechs Ltd.