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Official Site: isuzu.co.jp
Wikipedia: Isuzu Motors

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A Japanese manufacturer of trucks and SUVs founded in 1916 and based in Tokyo, Japan. The name Isuzu would be adopted in 1934.

Vehicle names used by Isuzu throughout its history include:  Amigo, Ascender, Axiom, Bellel, Bellett, Hombre, I-Mark, i290, Impulse, NPR, Oasis, Rodeo, Trooper, and VehiCROSS.


The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Isuzu Motors page on 30 January 2019, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Isuzu Motors' history began in 1916, when Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co., Ltd. planned a cooperation with the Tokyo Gas and Electric Industrial Co. to build automobiles. The next step was taken in 1918, when a technical cooperation with Wolseley Motors Limited was initiated, yielding exclusive rights to the production and sales of Wolseley vehicles in East Asia. In 1922 came the first ever Japan-produced passenger car, a Wolseley model, the A9. The CP truck followed two years later; 550 of these were built by 1927. In 1933, Ishikawajima Automotive Works merged with DAT Automobile Manufacturing Inc. (a predecessor of Nissan) and changed its name to Automobile Industries Co., Ltd. The products of this company, marketed as "Sumiya" and "Chiyoda", were renamed Isuzu (after the Isuzu River) in 1934, following a meeting with the Japanese Government's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI). The word Isuzu translated into English means "fifty bells"—hence the focus on "bell" in both the later Bellel and the Bellett.

In 1937 Automobile Industries was reorganized and formed into a new company, Tokyo Automobile Industries Co., Ltd. It was founded with a capital of ¥1,000,000. Only in 1949 was Isuzu finally adopted as the company name. Meanwhile, in 1942, Hino Heavy Industries was split off from Isuzu, becoming a separate corporation. Truck production (TX40 and TU60) began anew in 1945, with the permission of the occupation authorities. Beginning in 1953 the Hillman Minx passenger car is produced under license of Rootes Group. The Minx remained in production until 1962, after the 1961 introduction of Isuzu's first own car, the Bellel. Being a small producer making cars which were somewhat too large and pricey for the Japanese market at the time, Isuzu spent some time looking for a commercial partner. Under pressure from MITI, who were attempting to limit the number of automobile manufacturers in Japan, a cooperation with Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) began in 1966. This joint sales-service collaboration was seen as the first step towards an eventual merger. The Subaru 1000 was even shown in Isuzu's 1967 annual vehicle brochure, as a suitable complement to the larger Isuzu lineup. This tie-up was over by 1968, when an agreement with Mitsubishi was formed. This ended even quicker, by 1969, and the next year an equally short-lived collaboration was entered with Nissan. A few months later, in September 1971, what was to prove a more durable capital agreement was signed with General Motors.

Linking with General Motors

The first result of GM taking a 34% stake in Isuzu is seen in 1972, only months later, when the Chevrolet LUV becomes the first Isuzu-built vehicle to be sold in the United States. To symbolize the new beginning, Isuzu also developed a new logo for 1974, with two vertical pillars which are stylized representations of the first syllable in いすゞ ("Isuzu"). In 1974 Isuzu introduced the Gemini, which was co-produced with General Motors as the T-car. It was sold in the United States as Buick's Opel by Isuzu, and in Australia as the Holden Gemini. As a result of the collaboration, certain American GM products are sold to Japanese customers through Isuzu dealerships. Holden's Statesman was also briefly sold (246 examples) with Isuzu badging in Japan during the seventies. Isuzu exports also increased considerably as a result of being able to use GM networks, from 0.7% of production in 1973 to 35.2% by 1976; this while overall production increased more than fourfold in the same period. As a result of the GM joint venture, Isuzu engines were also used by existing GM divisions (some USA-market Chevrolet automobiles had Isuzu powertrains e.g. the Chevette and early S10/S15 trucks manufactured prior to 1985).

In 1981 Isuzu began selling consumer and commercial vehicles under their own brand in the United States. The Isuzu P'Up was the first model sold to consumers as an Isuzu, rather than as a Chevrolet or Buick. Isuzu's then president Toshio Okamoto then initiated a collaboration with small-car expert Suzuki to develop a global small car for GM, the S-car. A three-way agreement of co-ownership was signed in August 1981, with Isuzu and Suzuki exchanging shares and General Motors taking a 5% share of Suzuki. Following on from this, in 1985 Isuzu and GM established the IBC Vehicles venture in the United Kingdom, producing locally built versions of Isuzu and Suzuki light vans (the Isuzu Fargo and Suzuki Carry); to be sold in the European market under Vauxhall's Bedford brand. During this period Isuzu also developed a worldwide presence as an exporter of diesel engines, with their powerplants in use by Opel/Vauxhall, Land Rover, Hindustan, and many others. Two Isuzu model lines (Gemini, Impulse) were marketed as part of the Geo division (Spectrum, Storm) when it was initially launched as a Chevrolet subsidiary. In the domestic Japanese market, OEM deals with other manufacturers were entered to aid the poorly performing passenger car arm. It led to the badging of Suzukis, beginning in 1986, and Subaru small commercial vehicles as Isuzus (Geminett, Geminett II). This OEM tie-up occurred alongside the establishment of SIA (Subaru-Isuzu Automotive), an American joint venture with Fuji Heavy Industries (the parent company of Subaru). Shortly afterwards, the Lafayette, Indiana plant became operational.

Contraction begins

Isuzu ended US sales of the Impulse (Geo Storm) in 1992, and the following year it stopped exporting the Stylus (the basis for the Geo Spectrum), the last Isuzu-built car sold in the US.

In 1993 Isuzu began a new vehicle exchange program with Honda, whereby Honda sold the Isuzu Rodeo and Isuzu Trooper as the Honda Passport and Acura SLX, respectively. In return Isuzu began selling the Honda Odyssey as the Isuzu Oasis. Thus, Honda's lineup gained two SUVs, and Isuzu's lineup gained a minivan. In the Japanese market, the Gemini (Stylus) was now a rebadged Honda Domani and the Aska (originally based on the GM J-car) was a Honda Accord.

Isuzu's United States sales reached a peak in 1996 after the introduction of the Isuzu Hombre pickup, a badge-engineered GM truck (using the sheetmetal of the Brazil-market Chevrolet S10). Isuzu resurrected the beloved Amigo in 1998, before changing the name of the 2-door convertible to Rodeo Sport in 2001 in an attempt to associate it with the better selling 4-door Rodeo. The Rodeo Sport was discontinued in 2003, while production of the Rodeo and Axiom ceased a year later. By this point sales in North America had slowed to just 27,188, with the discontinued Rodeo and Axiom making up 71% of that total.

In 1998 General Motors and Isuzu formed DMAX, a joint venture to produce diesel engines. GM raised its stake in Isuzu to 49% the following year, effectively gaining control of the company and quickly followed this up by appointing an American GM executive to head Isuzu's North American Operations. This marked the first time a non-Japanese executive had ever held such a high position at Isuzu. In 2001 G.M. and Isuzu announced plans to share distribution networks and for Chevrolet to market an Isuzu product.

The production version of the heralded VehiCROSS was introduced to the US in 1999, but met with mixed reviews, as its high pricetag, unique styling and two-door configuration did not seem to meet with market demands. Production of the VehiCROSS and other sport utility vehicles, including the Trooper, ended in 2001 as part of a major financial reorganization which eliminated almost 10,000 jobs. GM had been pushing the company to focus exclusively on producing commercial vehicles and engines.

Article Index

22 June 2006Isuzu Shows Off More Power And More SafetyStacey Wilson
9 August 2006New Website Up For Isuzu Diesel EnginesTerry Brown
7 August 2007Strong Second Quarter For IsuzuAnthony Fontanelle
14 April 2009Isuzu Ventures into the United States MarketRonnie Tanner
22 January 2013Rebuilt Isuzu Engines Now Dyno Tested at RemanufacturedEnginesforSale.comRemanufactuedEnginesforSale.com
19 October 2018Commercial Driver's License Standards: Application for Exemption; Isuzu North America Corporation (Isuzu)Federal Register: FMCSA (Larry W. Minor)
21 February 2019Commercial Driver's License Standards: Application for Exemption; Isuzu North America Corporation (Isuzu)Federal Register: FMCSA (Raymond P. Martinez)


DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
28 November 1966NHTSA Recall 66V028000 Austin Healey 1100, Austin Healey Mini, Isuzu Pickup Truck, MG 1100, Morris 1100, Morris Cooper, Morris Cooper S, Morris Cooper Saloon, Morris Mini Van, Morris Moke, Riley Elf, Vanden Plas 1100, Wolseley Hornet
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page

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