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Toyota Motor Corp. hopes to eventually increase its equity stakes in its affiliated Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd. to over 50 percent to strengthen the Toyota group’s consolidation, Toyota President Hiroshi Okuda said Wednesday.

“We are already moving toward that direction. We’d like to increase the strength of our group as a whole in the rapidly changing auto industry,” Okuda told reporters. He did not give a specific timetable for such an increase.

Toyota raised its stake in Daihatsu to 33.4 percent from 16.8 percent in September 1995, and it increased its stake in Hino, which produces trucks, to 20.1 percent from 16.4 percent last fall. Daihatsu makes small passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Its recently introduced Storia 1-liter passenger car became a hit in Japan.

Okuda said Toyota first wants to raise its holdings in Hino to one-third, and gradually raise the percentage.

If banks release their shares of those companies in the market, Toyota is willing to purchase them, he said. “But we first have to get approval from the government’s antitrust committee to do that,” Okuda said.

He also indicated his company may participate in Formula One races in the future.

Asked about the possibility of Toyota’s participation in building an F-1 circuit racecourse, Okuda told reporters he would not rule out such prospects. On a planned transmission plant in Poland, Okuda said the project will probably take the form of a joint venture with affiliate Aisin Seiki Co., with an estimated investment of 20 billion yen to 30 billion yen.

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