Isuzu Motors Ltd. (Isuzu Jido-sha Kabushiki-gaisha?), (TYO: 7202 ) is a Japanese commercial vehicle and heavy truck manufacturer 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 and Hokkaido-. 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 1990's. In the United States, Isuzu is mostly known for manufacturing rebadged models of Chevrolet's Colorado as the Isuzu i-290 and the Quad Cab i-370, and also GMC's Envoy has been rebadged as the Isuzu Ascender. These are currently the only compact automobile models marketed 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.
• 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.
• 1981 - Isuzu-branded consumer and commercial vehicles are successfully exported to the United States. The Isuzu Pup is the first model sold to consumers.
• 1987 - The joint venture Subaru Isuzu Automotive Inc. (SIA) is established together with Fuji Heavy Industries, owner of Subaru.
• 1993 - Isuzu stops exporting the Stylus, its last car in America, after ending the Impulse the year before.
• 1996 - Isuzu's sales peak in the United States. Joe Isuzu is popular pitchman with implausible claims, was also hired for the Axiom.
• 1998 - General Motors and Isuzu form DMAX, a joint venture to produce diesel engines.
• 1999 - GM raises its stake in Isuzu to 49%, effectively gaining control of the company.
• 2001 - Isuzu sales begin to slide as the Rodeo and Trooper age. Movie Spy kids features Isuzu Axiom and Trooper.
• 2002 - Subaru buys Isuzu's share of US plant. Subaru Isuzu Automotive becomes Subaru of Indiana Automotive.
• August 14, 2002 - General Motors reduces its 49% share in Isuzu to 12% as part of a comprehensive recapitalization of Isuzu. GM also takes full control of DMAX and Isuzu Motors Polska, with Isuzu losing not just the factories but also ownership of all engine designs. The Trooper is dropped from the North American lineup.
• 2003 - Isuzu sales were eliminated from the Canadian market. Canadian dealers mostly selling Saturn and Saab cars drop Isuzu cars from the lineup.
• July 2004 - Production of the Rodeo and Axiom stopped. Isuzu sales in North America slow, with just 27,188 vehicles sold in all of 2004, with the cancelled Rodeo and Axiom making up 71% of that total.
• 2005 - Isuzu dealers in the United States have only one model, the Ascender SUV, with the 2006 i-Series bringing that to two. 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. The Ascender is a rebadged GM vehicle with mostly cosmetic differences from the GMC Envoy/Chevrolet TrailBlazer/Buick Rainier/and final version of the Oldsmobile Bravada. The i-series trucks are rebadged versions of the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon pickup trucks. Those trucks were jointly designed by GM's North American operations, GM do Brasil, and Isuzu; with Isuzu providing the chassis and GM providing the drivetrain. Isuzu has 290 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; American Isuzu explains 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 North America announces its first profit-making in years, mainly due to restructuring cuts and continuing robust sales of commercial trucks.
• 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. GM sells its remaining shares in Isuzu, 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 it's 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 other 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 predessessor
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