Staff writer GUANGZHOU, China — Isuzu Motor Co., a Japanese truck and bus maker, will reach a basic agreement with local authorities, possibly by the end of the month, over a joint venture to produce large buses here, a local government official said Tuesday. Zhang Guang-nin, deputy mayor of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, said Isuzu and the local government are likely to reach a basic agreement soon. Although he declined to elaborate on the state of negotiations, he suggested the joint venture may start next year. Isuzu and Guangzhou Auto Group Corp., based in Guangzhou, have already agreed to the joint project, Zhang said. The details of the project have yet to be decided. If approved, the project will mark Isuzu’s first bus output in China, although the Japanese automaker has been assembling small trucks through its joint ventures with local concerns. The Guangzhou Auto Group launched production of Honda Motor Co.’s Accord passenger car last year at their fifty-fifty joint venture. The Chinese government is promoting joint ventures with foreign manufacturers as a way to help its local automotive industry grow. Meanwhile, Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co., affiliated with Honda Motor Co., plans to boost its annual production 2.5 times to 25,000 units starting in late April amid robust sales, Honda officials said Monday. The company, a joint venture between Honda and a local concern, started making the Accord, with an engine displacement of 2,300cc, last March. The company also announced that it now procures more than 40 percent of its parts from local suppliers, clearing the 40 percent standard set by the Chinese government, Honda officials said. As for getting the passenger car project on track, the joint venture company had manufactured about 8,500 units by the end of October, mainly by assembling cars with imported parts. “We started full-scale production on Nov. 18, and the Chinese government acknowledged that our local procurement reached 40 percent on Nov. 26,” said Koji Kadowaki, president of the joint venture. He said this was the first time he’d seen this kind of progress in only 17 months. In order to reach out to more Chinese consumers, the automaker plans to add a 2,000cc model to its lines next March.
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