Toyota Motor Corp. announced Mar. 17 that it will increase its stake in truck maker Hino Motors Ltd. in order to expand its cooperation with the firm and strengthen the Toyota group as a whole amid intensifying competition.

Toyota will purchase 19.3 million Hino shares to increase its shareholding level from 11.1 percent to 16.4 percent, Toyota said. Toyota, which already had been the top shareholder of Hino, has been entrusting the truck maker with production of Toyota trucks heavier than three tons.

A Toyota spokesman said the carmaker plans to entrust it with development and production of smaller trucks as well, hoping Hino’s experience and resources will help Toyota cope with upcoming issues such as the introduction of stricter environmental standards for diesel engines. The move comes 1 1/2 years after Toyota increased its shares in leading minicar maker Daihatsu Motor Co. to 33.4 percent.

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