Toyota announced today that it will spend $373 million on a deal with Isuzu that will transfer 5.9% of the truck- and diesel-maker to the giant Japanese automaker. Toyota's goal in purchasing a stake in Isuzu is to bolster its diesel portfolio, which apparently lags behind other major automakers like cross-town rival Honda who announced in September it would have diesel-powered passenger cars for sale in the U.S. within three years.

We always expected that Toyota would rely on its own Hino Motors commercial truck subsidiary for a diesel engine to power a heavy-duty version of its new Tundra pickup, but Hino is not prepared to make smaller diesel engines for passenger cars and potentially diesel hybrids. Isuzu offers Toyota the know-how and production capacity for diesel engines that are smaller than 2.5-liters, which makes the purchase seem like a perfect fit.

Mitsubishi will now become the largest single shareholder in Isuzu with 9.7% of the stock, followed by trading house Itochu Corp. with 7.2% and Toyota with 5.9%. GM sold all of its stock in Isuzu back in April, which amounted to 7.9%. Today's announcement marks the second time Toyota has swooped in and picked up shares in a company that GM has cast off, the first being Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. required]