Isuzu Make Overview
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Older Isuzu Models
|Isuzu Amigo||Isuzu Axiom||Isuzu Hombre|
|Isuzu i-Series||Isuzu Impulse||Isuzu Oasis|
|Isuzu Panther||Isuzu Pickup||Isuzu Rodeo Sport|
|Isuzu Stylus||Isuzu VehiCROSS|
The Isuzu name didn't officially appear in the automotive lexicon until 1949, when it was adopted as the new corporate nomenclature by Tokyo Jidosha Kogyo, a Japanese manufacturer that had been building trucks and cars (under a different name) since 1918. Isuzu was named after a river that flows past a Japanese shrine, and literally means "50 bells pealing in harmony and celebration." Already a full-fledged automaker at the time of its re-branding, Isuzu built heavy-duty diesel-powered trucks in addition to automobiles and light-duty trucks.
During the 1950s, Isuzu focused primarily on building diesel engines, tractors, and heavy-duty equipment. In 1971, the automaker reached a milestone when it signed an agreement with General Motors to produce trucks for distribution in the United States. Buick's Opel and the Chevrolet LUV truck were the first vehicles built by Isuzu for sale in the U.S. under GM names. Those trucks helped Isuzu gain a foothold in the American automotive market, and in 1980 Isuzu established a U.S.-based subsidiary, American Isuzu Motors. Shortly after, Isuzu began selling its own branded vehicles in the U.S., starting with the Isuzu Pickup, or P'up. Today, approximately 300 dealers continue to sell Isuzu vehicles nationwide.
By 1988, Isuzu was the number one truck maker in the world, and by 1992 the automaker had sold one million vehicles in the U.S., including SUVs like the Amigo, Rodeo, and Trooper. Isuzu also sold passenger cars in the U.S., popularized by the "Joe Isuzu" TV ads. In 1999, General Motors upped its stake in Isuzu to 49 percent, and the following year the two automakers jointly formed the General Motors Isuzu Commercial Truck company, which marketed medium-duty trucks to Isuzu, GMC, and Chevy dealers.
The following year, Isuzu unveiled its Axiom SUV, at a time when its Rodeo and Trooper SUVs were aging and overall sales of its cars and trucks were faltering due to stiff competition from both Japanese and European automakers. But the Axiom did little to help the struggling automaker as it entered the 21st century. Sales of the Trooper were halted in 2002, and the Rodeo and Axiom were dropped from the lineup in 2004 as sales dipped. Although GM reduced its stake in Isuzu to 12 percent in 2002, the two companies remained linked and continued to produce vehicles together, including the Ascender, a five-passenger, V6-powered SUV introduced in 2004, and the i-280 4x2 Extended Cab and i-350 4x4 Crew Cab pickup trucks, which debuted a year later.
Although GM completely pulled out of Isuzu as a stakeholder in 2006, the two companies continue to work together to develop new vehicles. In 2007, Isuzu added the i-370 4x2 Extended Cab and the i-370 4x2 Crew Cab to its lineup, and the automaker signed an agreement with Toyota to develop a new diesel engine for eventual sale in Europe. In addition, Isuzu continues to build commercial vehicles for sale around the world.