Government figures tried to bring Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. to the table for merger talks this year, but the project fizzled out due to the companies' rejection of the idea, the Financial Times reported Sunday.

The suggestion was made to the major automakers at the end of last year, amid intensified global competition in the auto sector to shift toward self-driving electric vehicles, the international business paper said, citing three people familiar with the matter.

The idea of bringing together Nissan and Honda appears to have come from advisers to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as they were worried that the state of Nissan's alliance with Renault SA of France had soured badly since the 2018 arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn over financial misconduct, the newspaper reported.