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Isuzu faces gloomy future in the U.S.
New SUV may not arrive
KATHY JACKSON | Automotive News

LOS ANGELES -- Isuzu may be on its last legs in the United States. Sales are plummeting, dealers are losing their best-selling models, and a new SUV they have been promised might never arrive.

Massive incentives slapped on Isuzu's U.S. models last month have the look of a going-out-of-business sale.

If the SUV expected in the fall of 2006 is a no-show, analysts say Isuzu has little reason to stay in business in the United States. But when Isuzu Dealer Council members went to Japan in January to see the vehicle, some were sorely disappointed.

The dealer council was invited by Isuzu Motors Ltd. to discuss future product plans, particularly the SUV that would be produced at an Isuzu plant in Thailand. But Isuzu dealer and council member Bob Scena says the trip to Japan was a waste of time.

"They got us all the way over there to show us nothing," says Scena, owner of Showcase Isuzu in Bourne, Mass. "There didn't seem to be any urgency. Everything about the new vehicle was 'subject to, subject to ... just a lot of subject-tos.'

"There is not a lot of hope for Isuzu right now," he says "The next product is not due until the 2007 model year, and even that's not etched in stone."

Isuzu sold 30,328 vehicles in the United States last year, a 42.8 percent decline from 2002. Sales were off 11.8 percent through the first quarter of this year.

As recently as 1999, Isuzu was selling more than 100,000 vehicles in the United States. At the time, Isuzu was riding high on the SUV craze. Its Rodeo and Trooper SUVs lured American customers into showrooms, providing most of Isuzu's global profits.

Seemingly overnight, U.S. customers turned away from Isuzu's truck-based SUVs in favor of more comfortable and stylish car-based crossovers.

"Our SUVs have been stale," admits Isuzu President Yoshinori Ida.

Maloney says the American unit was profitable through the first 11 months of 2003. He believes the importer can be profitable selling under 40,000 units.

"Our breakeven point is not that high," he says.

But of the 7,570 units the company sold through March, 5,224 were Rodeos - a vehicle that is being phased out. And the company is offering huge incentives to move its 2004 models. The $5,000 off a 2004 Rodeo comes on a vehicle with a base price of less than $21,000.

According to Automotive Lease Guide in Santa Barbara, Calif., a 2004 Isuzu will be worth only 33 percent of its value three years from now, a percentage higher only than Buick, Kia, Dodge and Oldsmobile.

The company has taken steps to get smaller. Isuzu Motors America has reduced its U.S. staff to about 150, down from 300. It has dumped its captive finance company; reduced fleet sales to 5 percent of total sales, down from 30 percent; and it will reduce its dealer body to about 250 stores, down from 400.

Jesse Toprak, director of pricing and market analysis at Edmunds.com in Santa Monica, Calif., adds: "Rebadged GMs are not a good turnaround plan. They need their own unique products."

But Isuzu's last new product - the Axiom, launched in April 2001 - has sold far below projections.

"Isuzu was successful with SUVs that were reliable, large and offered good space, " says former head of GM Asia Pacific operations Fritz Henderson, now head of General Motors Europe. "They were good products. But when you compare those products in 1996 or 1997 vs. in 2002, the competitive market has changed dramatically. There are many more entries going after that market. Isuzu lost their role."

Full Article Here

 

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Isuzu and Mitsubishi both have horrible product lines that look old, look ugly, and offer no compelling reason to purchase them. Pretty sad when Honda, Toyota, and Nissan can sell almost anything they offer (no matter how dull or ugly). Isuzu once made a nice little pickup but they shelved that for something made by GM and that was a big mistake. Their SUV's offer nothing that cannot be found elsewhere in a better package.

It's a shame. I used to like SUV though never Mitsubishi. But then again, only the blind appear to find anything made by Mitsubishi as good looking.
 

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ALL I CAN SAY IS ITS BOUT TIME THEY GET OUT OF THE US MARKET THERES PLENTY OF SUVS NOW TO GO AROUND AND ISUZU AINT A COMPANY TO STAY IN THE US SUV MARKET AND ITS NOT EVEN MAKIN A PROFIT.....WHY PHASE OUT OLDS AND KEEP ISUZU SUVS???SEEMS KINDA DUMB TO ME OLDS IM SURE DID A HELL OF A LOT MORE SALES THAT ISUZU DID AND SOLD MORE VEHICLES THAT ISUZU DID BY A 2 TO 1 SELLING POINT...GET RID OF ISUZU AND BRING BACK OLDS......OLDS IS A GREAT GM CAR AND UNFORTUNATELY IT GOT A BAD RAP FOR BEIN A "OLD MANS CAR"...I DRIVE A 2000 INTRIGUE DAMN GOOD CAR VERY RELIABLE AND SPORTY..IF ANYTHING THE CADDY DTS IS A OLD MANS CAR OR THE BUICKS PARK AVE OR CENTURY FOR THE LESS FORTUNATE WHY PHASE OUT A COMPANY THAT HAD OLD BODY DESIGNS AND A BAD RAP.....OLDS SHOULDVE STAYED WITH US AND LET ISUZU DIE...GM COULDVE REVAMPED THE OLDS NAME BY MAKING IT A SOMEWHAT SUBARU LIKE AND HOLDEN LIKE CAR COMPANY WHY PHASE OUT THE OLDEST CAR CO IN US HISTORY.. THATS LIKE GETTING RID OF THE PRESIDENT AND JUST HAVE A VP...ITS STUPID BUT THATS GM FOR YA
 

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Isuzu's situation is bad but it's not surprising when one realizes it's GM's "professional grade" mismanagment that got Isuzu where it was in the first place, just like Oldsmobile. The article is written like Isuzu was the victim of some kind of crime, as if consumers didn't have the right to switch away to better vehicles instead of sticking with Isuzu's bland, unimaginative designs. In typical GM arrogance it was felt that it was the consumer that was wrong, not the company and, as a result, the years of Isuzu's success were squandered when the company failed to adapt to a changing market through failing to bring in new and unique designs, just like Oldsmobile. For some reason, GM thinks it can rebadge the same vehicle five times and nobody will notice the similarities between each vehicle *cough*ASCENDER*cough*. Now Ford pretty much does the same thing but it mainly restricts it to its three domestic brand names which means a vehicle can only be rebadged a couple times at the most. Ford shares platforms with its foreign brands like Jaguar and Mazda but it isn't as obvious (for example the Ford Thunderbird and Jaguar S-Type both share the DEW98 platform yet look very different from each other). I guess my point in the end is that GM has too many brands to manage and as a result can't provide the same level of creativity to keep each one viable, forcing some to get squeezed out. I suppose it could be worse though; Ford has had large difficulties keeping the Mercury division alive and it only has its three domestic brands versus GM's seven (excluding Oldsmobile).
 

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Will Isuzu just go away already..... As crappy as their (Isuzu's) trucks are/were, I don't see how in the hell Honda (not that Honda is great by any means,but Isuzu is worse) opted 2 pass off that terrible Rodeo as 1 of their (Honda's) own (Passport) :blink: .
 

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At the time, the Rodeo was a average-to-above average SUV. It was a bit odd that Honda would lower their standards to rebadge it as the Passport, but it was an immediate need for Honda to get an SUV. It was a cheap entry into the market...Honda offered no R&D (how much does it cost to test the badging?) and got an SUV. Sounds like an excellent business plan.

As for Isuzu vs Oldsmobile: I feel for you guys, but there's no connection. While GM owns SOME of Isuzu (currently around 12%), they can't pull the strings like they did with Oldsmobile. GM's just not in a position of power at Isuzu.

I've felt for years that Isuzu would go away unless they could get a breakthrough product...and that just hasn't happened. Isuzu has always been an also-ran in the US, with the possible exception of the early years of the Rodeo.

Let's put our money down on Isuzu "going away" within the next year-to-18 months. There are 24 stand-alone Isuzu dealers in the US...which should make closing the brand much easier than closing Oldsmobile (who still had 102 non-GM dualled dealers as of January 1).
 

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at 12% ownership, how much does GM have to do with isuzu's troubles? did GM force a rebadged trailblazer on them, or did isuzu come begging? as far as GM is concerned, what need is there for isuzu? i don't think it has much cache... never had a huge following (though perhaps a dedicated one), and certainly doesn't now. GM's got SUV's in all categories now... and while it wasn't a full GM division, it couldn't serve much purpose with GM now.
 

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I'm really curious as to what this new SUV looks like and how disappointing it is...
 

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GM's ownership of Isuzu used to be as high as 49% until mid-2002 when a deal was brokered to give GM the rights to much of Isuzu's diesel techonlogy in exchange for GM substantially reducing its share of ownership in Isuzu (to 12%). In addition, GM appointed a senior executive to help manage a "recovery" program to help Isuzu reassert itself in the U.S. market - a move that failed I imagine; Axiom anyone?

Surely GM doesn't hold much stake in Isuzu now, but it used to hold quite a bit before (back in Isuzu's better days not surprisingly) which gave them a good deal of influence. Even with their current 12%, or even if it was only 1%, GM could put significant pressure on Isuzu to go a certain direction and that direction doesn't seem to be one that'll restore Isuzu as a popular brand in the U.S. Again, it would just be simpler for GM to drop support in some of its brands rather than keep them all and cause the weaker ones to make half-*** products that waste GM's financial resources.
 

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Isuzu in Canada is officially dead. 2003 was the final model year.

From GM-Canada-Isuzu's website:

We are sorry to inform you that the Isuzu brand has been discontinued in Canada.

Saturn Isuzu retailers will continue to service Isuzu vehicles and Isuzu owners will receive parts and warranty coverage from existing Retailers. Should you have further questions, please contact your nearest Saturn Isuzu Retailer.
 

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Originally posted by carguy2225@May 6 2004, 03:27 AM
ALL I CAN SAY IS ITS BOUT TIME THEY GET OUT OF THE US MARKET THERES PLENTY OF SUVS NOW TO GO AROUND AND ISUZU AINT A COMPANY TO STAY IN THE US SUV MARKET AND ITS NOT EVEN MAKIN A PROFIT.....WHY PHASE OUT OLDS AND KEEP ISUZU SUVS???SEEMS KINDA DUMB TO ME OLDS IM SURE DID A HELL OF A LOT MORE SALES THAT ISUZU DID AND SOLD MORE VEHICLES THAT ISUZU DID BY A 2 TO 1 SELLING POINT...GET RID OF ISUZU AND BRING BACK OLDS......OLDS IS A GREAT GM CAR AND UNFORTUNATELY IT GOT A BAD RAP FOR BEIN A "OLD MANS CAR"...I DRIVE A 2000 INTRIGUE DAMN GOOD CAR VERY RELIABLE AND SPORTY..IF ANYTHING THE CADDY DTS IS A OLD MANS CAR OR THE BUICKS PARK AVE OR CENTURY FOR THE LESS FORTUNATE WHY PHASE OUT A COMPANY THAT HAD OLD BODY DESIGNS AND A BAD RAP.....OLDS SHOULDVE STAYED WITH US AND LET ISUZU DIE...GM COULDVE REVAMPED THE OLDS NAME BY MAKING IT A SOMEWHAT SUBARU LIKE AND HOLDEN LIKE CAR COMPANY WHY PHASE OUT THE OLDEST CAR CO IN US HISTORY.. THATS LIKE GETTING RID OF THE PRESIDENT AND JUST HAVE A VP...ITS STUPID BUT THATS GM FOR YA
Why are you shouting??... :D
 

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Originally posted by paul8488@May 6 2004, 09:08 AM
at 12% ownership, how much does GM have to do with isuzu's troubles? did GM force a rebadged trailblazer on them, or did isuzu come begging? as far as GM is concerned, what need is there for isuzu? i don't think it has much cache... never had a huge following (though perhaps a dedicated one), and certainly doesn't now. GM's got SUV's in all categories now... and while it wasn't a full GM division, it couldn't serve much purpose with GM now.
GM's hands are quite dirty when it comes to Isuzu's troubles, sad to say. From killing off the Geo Storm and Spectrum (pretty much directly killing Isuzu's car line in the process--along with some blunders by Isuzu themselves; they're not wholly blameless in this), to the relative starvation diet the product budget's been on, it's easy to see why Isuzu's in so much danger of disappearing. GM got the diesel tech they wanted and discarded the rest like an old shoe. Considering the way they were treated, I'm sure Isuzu is probably happier with taking their chances as an independent and possibly dying off in the attempt. :(
 

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Bring back the Impulse! :afro:

BTW I really like the Axiom. The styling is very unique and nice, as is the (direct injection) engine. Sorta' like a Vue on steroids.

Also aren't the new GM small pickups (Colorado and whatever) based on the Isuzu D-max pickup? I wonder why Isuzu never got a version.
 

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stewacide: I made a post here saying 'A New Isuzu' something like that. I like the Axiom too. It is a nice car: Isuzu just needs to figure out a way to sell it good...... Ever since the exit of the Vehicross, Isuzu has been stale. They brought in a rebadged GMC Envoy. Even though it worked for a little while, it didn't really help at all. Poor Isuzu. The Direct Injection Engines are great, the offerings are good (besides the Ascender). Isuzu needs a new marketing strategy, along with Mitsubishi (who recently took off the air the 'youth' commercials with a new CEO, even though it was actually working for Mitsu).
 

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I like the Axiom but not the Rodeo. But the 3.5L Direct Injection engine is great! The Axiom would've sold well this year if they advertised that they have a new engine and if they added some new features.
 

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I don't understand why the Axiom isn't selling. It looks great. The engine is a gem. Bespite being BoF the ride is said to be on par with competative unibody crossovers. :blink:

I also don't understand why Isuzu stopped offering diesels in North America. THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE MOST KNOWN FOR! If they can give us a direct-injection gasoline engine at a reasonable cost why not a diesel? Especially with fuel prices spikeing as they have been, and with clean diesel set to be widely available in the next few years, I'd imagine diesel Axioms and D-maxes (import!) would be flying off the shelves.
 

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The only stylistic change I would make to the Axiom is the front. I'd like bigger headlamps and a bigger grill.
 

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Maybe it's time for some Japaneese house cleaning like when Fiat, Renault, Alpha Romero, etc. all dropped out of the US market. There are just so many brands and models now.

What I don't understand is if Izuzu makes such great diesels and the that 3.5L in the Axiom looks real hot, why doesn't GM just use their motors? Why buy Honda engines and import crap tech 3.4L V6's from China when your cousin Isuzu is hurting for sales?
 
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