Isuzu puts the brakes on car production; up-shifts MD trucks

IRVINE, Calif — Falling sales for its SUV and pickup models has led to Isuzu abandoning the passenger car market and light truck market to concentrate on mid-range and medium-duty cabover trucks.

With Navistar International taking over the General Motors medium truck business, it is likely that the GM- and Chevrolet-badged Isuzu cabovers and the crossover conventional H-Series GM conventional chassis with Isuzu power will go away, leaving the staff at Isuzu Trucks North America to concentrate on the low cabover market where Isuzu dominates.

Isuzu entered the North American auto market in 1981 after building small pickups for GM in the ’70s. Initially it offered the Pup pickup and the Trooper. At the time, the Trooper was the only four-door SUV apart from the Jeep Cherokee, and to a great extent helped establish the SUV car market. Another popular Isuzu model, the Rodeo, was a popular SUV for Isuzu and also rebadged, sold well as the Honda Passport.

Isuzu passenger vehicle sales peaked in 1986. With only a few more than 7,000 of its Ascender SUV and i-series pickups sold last year, Isuzu management said on Wednesday that the company would pull out of the car market within a year, but would continue to support customers with Isuzu passenger vehicles.

The vehicle maker launched a Canadian operating arm last summer in Mississauga, Ont.

Until now, Isuzu-built LCFs have been available in Canada as GMC W-Series trucks. But head office in Japan decided to bolster the Isuzu badge in Canada by opening the new company.

— with files from

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