, is a Japanese
car, commercial vehicle and heavy truck manufacturing company
, headquartered in Tokyo
. In 2005, Isuzu was the world's largest manufacturer of medium to heavy duty trucks. It has assembly and manufacturing plants in the Japanese city of Fujisawa
, as well as in the prefectures Tochigi
. Isuzu is famous for producing commercial vehicles and diesel engines
- it produced 16 million diesel engines in 2003 alone, which can be found in vehicles all over the world.
In most of Asia, Africa, and Europe, Isuzu is mostly known for trucks of all sizes, after Isuzu small automobile sales drastically plummeted and Isuzu had to drop all sales of sedans and compact cars in the late 1990s. In the United States, Isuzu is mostly known for manufacturing rebadged Chevrolet Colorados as the Isuzu i-290 and the i-370, and also GMC's Envoy has been rebadged as the Isuzu Ascender. These are currently the only passenger vehicles Isuzu markets in the United States. Isuzu as a corporation has always been primarily a manufacturer of small to medium compact automobiles and commercial trucks of sizes medium duty and larger, but markets around the world show different needs. Isuzu has a contract with Budget Truck Rental to manufacture their rental trucks. This contract is also shared with Ford, GMC, and Navistar International.
On November 7, 2006, Toyota acquired 5.9% of Isuzu, making them the third largest shareholder behind ITOCHU and Mitsubishi Corporation.
- 1916 - Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co., Ltd. and Tokyo Gas and Electric Industrial Co. cooperatively plan to build automobiles.
- 1918 - A technical cooperation with Wolseley Motor Company (UK) is initiated. In 1922 the first Wolseley model A-9 car is domestically produced. The CP truck follows two years later.
- 1933 - Ishikawajima Automotive Works merges with DAT Automobile Manufacturing and changes its name to Automobile Industries Co., Ltd.
- 1934 - A meeting with the Ministry of Trade and Industry results in the renaming of the truck to Isuzu, after the Isuzu River. The word translated into English means "fifty bells".
- 1949 - Isuzu is adopted as company name.
- 1953 - With technical assistance of Rootes (UK) the Hillman Minx passenger car is produced.
- 1971 - A capital agreement with General Motors is signed.
- 1972 - The Chevrolet LUV becomes the first Isuzu-built vehicle to be sold in the United States. A decade later, it is replaced by a domestic vehicle, the Chevrolet S-10.
- 1973 - Isuzu introduces the Gemini, which is co-produced with General Motors. It is sold in the United States as Buick's Opel by Isuzu.
- 1981 - Isuzu-branded consumer and commercial vehicles are successfully exported to the United States. The Isuzu P'Up is the first model sold to consumers as an Isuzu, instead of a Chevrolet or Buick.
- 1987 - SIA (Subaru-Isuzu Automotive) is established as a joint venture with Fuji Heavy Industries (parent company of Subaru). Shortly thereafter, the Lafayette, Indiana plant becomes operational.
- 1993 - Isuzu ceases to export the Stylus (Geo Spectrum), its last cars in America, after ending the Impulse (Geo Storm) the year before.
- 1994 - Isuzu announces new vehicle exchange program with Honda, providing Honda with the Isuzu Rodeo (to be sold as the Honda Passport) and Isuzu Trooper (to be sold as the Acura SLX) and providing Isuzu with the Honda Odyssey (to be sold as the Isuzu Oasis). This has the effect of adding two SUVs to Honda's lineup and a minivan to Isuzu's lineup.
- 1996 - Isuzu's sales peak in the United States.
- 1998 - General Motors and Isuzu form DMAX, a joint venture to produce diesel engines. Isuzu resurrects the beloved Amigo. The uniquely styled VehiCROSS concept is unveiled.
- 1999 - GM raises its stake in Isuzu to 49%, effectively gaining control of the company. GM quickly follows this up with the appointment of an American GM executive to head Isuzu's North American Operations. This is the first time a non-Japanese executive has ever held such a high position at Isuzu. The U.S. introduction of the production version of the heralded VehiCROSS is met with mixed reviews, as its high pricetag, unique styling and two-door configuration don't seem to meet with market demands.
- 2000 - Concept convertible version of the VehiCROSS appears in the movie Mission to Mars.
- 2001 - Joe Isuzu, the immensely popular pitchman with implausible claims, is hired once again to promote the new Axiom. Isuzu sales begin to slide due to the aging of the Rodeo and Trooper, and poor management & lack of assistance from GM. Isuzu changes the name of the 2-door Amigo convertible to Rodeo Sport in an attempt to associate it with the better selling 4-door Rodeo. Movie Spy kids features Isuzu Axiom and Trooper.
- Early 2002 - Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru's parent company) buys Isuzu's share of Lafayette, Indiana plant. Subaru Isuzu Automotive (SIA) becomes Subaru of Indiana Automotive. After 8 years of heavy Honda Passport sales and light Isuzu Oasis sales, Honda and Isuzu cooperatively end their vehicle exchange agreement. The Oasis is dropped, and Honda replaces the Passport with the Pilot.
- Late 2002 - Isuzu begins the re-purchase of its stock from shareholders, primarily General Motors. Isuzu reduces GM's 49% share to 12% as part of this comprehensive recapitalization plan. As part of this reorganization, GM gains full control of DMAX and Isuzu Motors Polska, as well as ownership of all diesel engine designs from Isuzu. Isuzu drops the venerable Trooper from the North American lineup.
- 2003 - Isuzu sales are eliminated from the Canadian market. Canadian dealers mostly selling Saturn and Saab cars drop Isuzu SUVs from their showrooms. In addition, the Rodeo Sport is discontinued.
- July 2004 - Production of the Rodeo and Axiom cease. Sales in North America slow to just 27,188, with the discontinued Rodeo and Axiom making up 71% of that total. The number of Isuzu dealerships in the U.S. begins a rapid decline.
- 2005 - Isuzu dealers in the United States have only 2 models: the Ascender and the i-series pickup truck. The i-series is a rebadged Chevrolet Colorado, the Ascender is a re-badged GMC Envoy. At this point, Isuzu in the United States is primarily a distributor of medium duty trucks such as the NPR series. These vehicles are sourced both from Japan and U.S. plants in Janesville, WI and Flint, MI. Isuzu has 290 light-vehicle dealers in the U.S. as of August 2006, and sells an average of just two Ascenders per dealer per month. Plans to introduce a new Thai-built SUV, expected to be added for 2007, are shelved; Isuzu Motors Limited believes that a new SUV would be too risky and proceeds with the launch of the i-series trucks. Rumors of Isuzu's withdrawal from the U.S. market are rampant. Despite extremely low sales figures of 12,177 passenger vehicles for 2005 (with leftover Axiom and Rodeos making up 30% of this), Isuzu Motors America announces its first profit in years, mainly due to restructuring cuts.
- 2006 - Production of the 7-passenger Ascender ends in February with the closure of GM's Oklahoma City Assembly plant, leaving Isuzu with the 5-passenger Ascender, built in Moraine, Ohio, and the low-selling i-Series as its only retail products. The company sold just 1,504 vehicles in North America in the first two months of 2006. Isuzu finally purchases its remaining shares from GM, but claims the companies will continue their current relationship. There is no word as of April 12, 2006 on the effect this will have on DMAX USA operations.
- June 2006 - Isuzu and GM Agree to establish Joint Venture called "LCV Platform Engineering Corporation (LPEC)" to develop a new pickup. Isuzu says it will use its engineering expertise to develop the pickup and GM will develop derivatives based on the integrated platform.
- November 2006 - Toyota purchases 5.9% of Isuzu and the two companies agree to study possible business collaboration focusing on the areas of R&D and production of diesel engines, related emissions-control, and other environmental technologies.
- January 2007 - Isuzu, along with General Motors Companies, release an update to the LCV range, with a 3.0 litre common rail diesel motor, with far more torque and power to its predecessor
- August 2007 - Isuzu and Toyota agree to develop a 1.6-liter diesel engine for use in Toyota vehicles sold in European markets. Details of development, production and supply of the diesel engine, are still under discussion, but in principle, Isuzu will play the leading role. Production is scheduled to begin around 2012.
- January 30, 2008 - Isuzu announces complete withdrawal from the US market, effective January 31, 2009. It will continue to provide support and parts. The decision was mainly affected by both slowing sales, and GM's decision to replace the GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado and the Chevrolet Trailblazer with newer models that would not be able to be rebadged and sold as Isuzus. Isuzu had been experiencing a slow decline since the late 1990s. In less than 10 years, they had gone from selling a complete line of cars, trucks, and SUVs, into being a specialized SUV maker, and finally selling only a pair of rebadged, General Motors Trucks. They will continue to sell commercial vehicles in the U.S.
Important car, bus and light truck models
Passenger vehicle & SUVs
- 1963–1973, Bellett sedan (PR20) and 2 door GT (PR90 & PR91)
- 1967-1983, Isuzu Florian
- 1968-1981, 117 Coupe
- 1974–2000, Gemini/I-Mark/Stylus sedan
- 1983–1992, Piazza/Impulse/Storm hatchback
- 1983–2002, Aska sedan
- 1983–2002, Trooper midsize SUV
- 1983–1995, Isuzu Pick Up TF models Real Japan built from 1987-1991, 1991-1995 were US Built
- 1989-1994, Amigo A compact SUV (First generation)
- 1991–2004, Rodeo a small SUV
- 1991-present, Panther, a van sold in Indonesia, sold as the Isuzu Hi-Lander / Crosswind in the Philippines, also sold throughout the ASEAN, and in India as the Chevrolet Tavera
- 1996-1999, Isuzu Oasis minivan, a rebadged Honda Odyssey
- 1996–2000, Isuzu Hombre pickup truck, a rebadged Chevrolet S10
- 1998-2003, Amigo/Rodeo Sport A compact SUV (Second generation)
- 1999–2001, VehiCROSS halo SUV
- 2001–2004, Axiom midsize SUV
- 2002–present, Ascender large SUV
- 2002-present, D-Max Pickup Truck, a top selling diesel sold in the majority of Isuzu markets (excluding North America)
- 2006–present, i-280/i-350 pickup truck (a product of the co-developed D-Max platform Isuzu sells overseas) now sold as the I-290/I-370
Leaving U.S. Market
On January 30
, Isuzu Motors America announced that it will discontinue the sale of passenger vehicles in the United States effective January 31
. The company explained to its dealers that it had not been able to secure replacements for the Isuzu Ascender
and Isuzu i-Series
that would be commercially viable. Isuzu sold 7,098 cars in the year 2007.
Most Isuzu U.S. passenger vehicle dealers will become service and parts dealers. They will continue to honor the warranties of Isuzu vehicles and will sell parts and accessories.
This action will not affect Isuzu's commercial vehicle or industrial diesel engine operations in the United States.