General Motors Corp. wants a bigger piece of rapidly growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region and will strongly promote cooperation with its three Japanese partners, a top GM executive said Monday in Tokyo.

Richard Wagoner, chairman and chief executive officer of GM, said the combined share of GM, Isuzu Motors Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. in the region has reached 17 percent.

“We are right forward to be higher than 17 percent,” he told a joint news conference with the Japanese partners, two days before the Tokyo Motor Show opens to the media.

“That’s frankly easier said than done because markets are growing so fast in a number of countries that we really have to hustle to get the right kind of capacity and products and distribution.”

GM formed a capital alliance with truck maker Isuzu in 1971, minicar maker Suzuki in 1981 and Fuji Heavy, which makes Subarus, in 1999.

As a recent synergy effect of the alliances, Wagoner said the number of auto parts that the four companies are collectively purchasing in the Asia-Pacific region this year has grown by more than 30 percent over the previous year, generating annual purchasing savings of about 10 percent.

The joint purchase volume in 2004 is expected to top $250 million, according to GM.

To increase GM’s presence in Japan, Wagoner said the firm will reinforce sales of its vehicles through Suzuki and Fuji Heavy.

“We have struggled in growing the kind of sales we would like to see in the domestic market here,” he said. “It makes sense to take advantage of the capabilities of our partners.”

Suzuki will start selling an additional three models next year under the Chevrolet brand in Japan. The firm is currently marketing two Chevrolet models. Fuji Heavy is expected to set up more showrooms for Saab vehicles, Wagoner said. The Chevrolet and Saab brands belong to the GM group.

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