Sup, Thanks for checking into the site.
I made the page to show what Isuzu used to be, and the cars that they used to make. . .Isuzu stopped importing this version in late 1989, and introduced the second generation Impulse in spring of 1990 thru 1992 ( 2ng gen Impulse pics and specs are on page #4 )
This is how the Impulse came to be, and also its sister cars the DMC Delorean and Volkswagen Scirocco they all were designed by one person Georgetto Giugiaro, for all 3 car companys Isuzu,V.W, and Delorean.
Isuzu Motors Japan commissioned Georgetto Giugiaro in 1978 to create the replacement for their sporty model 117 Coupe, which was designed by Giugiaro in 1966. Giugiaro was presented with a rear wheel drive Isuzu Gemini (I-Mark) platform and was commisioned to design the new Isuzu. In the late 1970's, Giugiaro had been experimenting with variations of a wedge shaped design, one of which lead to the Impulse, the others turned into the Delorean and Scirocco.
Here are two Impulse concept prototype scetches done for Isuzu
This is the 1979 protype
The 1988 Impulse Turbo General Changes
The Lotus Tuned Suspension is introduced for 1988 with softer springs and stiffer shocks (dampers). Sway bar sizes are revised and the rear sway bar and attachments are redesigned.
Badges reading "Lotus Tuned Suspension" are placed on the front fenders or doors and tail.
The headlights were redesigned using lower profile quad lamps. The hood is smoothed and a power bulge is added over the intake manifold. The grille is redesigned with one less horizontal strake and the emblem is changed from the Isuzu logo to the "ISUZU" name.
The side view mirrors are color keyed to match the body color.
The tail lights are redesigned moving the yellow turn signal from the end to the middle and the red marker lamp to the corner, eliminating the need for a rear quarter panel side marker lamp.
Tire size goes size one wider from 195-60-14 to 205-60-14.
A one piece, rigid plastic, high mount spoiler is added to the rear hatch lid with a wide LED third brake light.
A color keyed side molding is added to the Turbo model.
A standard sunroof was added.
The standard 14x6 alloy wheel is the aluminum colored pentagon wheel with five split legs of a five point star, grey inlays around the star legs, and a pentagon shaped lug bolt cover.
Many mal-informed people comment that Isuzu cars were junk and thats why they stopped making them. *Not true*, here are the facts:
Over the last four or more decades, General Motors Corporation has steadily purchased more and more of the controlling interest (stock) of Isuzu Motors Limited. For at least the last two decades, Isuzu Motors has opperated as the Japanese division of GM, in the same way Holden is GM Australia, Vauxhall is GM UK, and Opel is GM Germany.
GM has been making the decisions of what Isuzu makes and how Isuzu markets those products since before 1985. GM has never been known for making logical or even profitable decisions. In addition, GM has always stipulated that Isuzu never heavily market its own badged products in any markets that they could compete with GM's domestic or rebadged products (Geo).
In 1992, GM looked at its poor sales of its own small cars, the Cavalier, Sunbird, Beretta, and Corsica, and compared those sales nubers to their rebadged Isuzu car, the Geo Storm. The comparison was rather embarassing, as GM saw it could not sell it's own domestic product while their rebadged product outsold their own cars. Their solution was to eliminate the Storm and thereby kill Isuzu's car making program.
It appears that most of Isuzu's car designers defected to Subaru, and it is conspicuous that Subaru introduced their Imprezza model only a few years after GM killed Isuzu's car making program. It is also conspicuous that the Imprezza is dimensionally and proportionally nearly identical to the Impulse RS AWD car, and it is equally conspicuous that the two share such similarity in name.
The fact of the matter is that politics brought about the end of Isuzu cars. Other car manufacturers have faced similar situations that also had nothing to do with the quality of the cars themselves, and there is no reason to think that Isuzu not making cars is an indication that their cars were of poor quality than there is to believe that the Supra, RX-7, CRX, Prelude, Integra, Starion, 3000GT, 300ZX, Scirocco, Countach, F40, or 911 are poor quality because they are no longer made by Toyota, Mazda, honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, VW, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Porsche.
( The complete Isuzu vehicle specs can be seen on on page 2 )
In 1978, Isuzu commissioned Giorgetto Giugiaro to design a new sporty car to replace the 117 Coupe (also a Giugiaro design). They delivered several T Series Geminis to the Italdesign studio in Italy and allowed Giugiaro free reign of the design. The result of this effort was the wedge-shaped three-door hatchback called the Asso di Fiori ("Ace of Clubs") prototype and show car, that was shown at the 1979 Tokyo Motor Show to rave reviews. Giugiaro referred to the design as his fifth "Copernican revolution", integrating the design innovations of many different previous designs into one, mass producable, vehicle. Within 48 hours of its unveiling at the Tokyo Motor Show, Isuzu fast tracked the vehicle into production with minimal changes to the design.
In late 1981, the first Isuzu Piazzas went on sale in Japan, available with either 120-hp, 120 ft�lbf 2.0 L SOHC I4 engine or a 135-hp, 123 ft�lbf 2.0 L DOHC I4 engine. 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions were available, and all models were rear-wheel drive. For the 1985 model year, a 180-hp, 185 ft�lbf turbocharged SOHC I4 engine was introduced, and the DOHC naturally aspirated engine was phased out in years that followed. Piazzas were available in a multitude of trim levels including Bella, XN, XJ, XE, XG, Nero, and others. There were three different suspension tuning levels, standard, Irmscher, and Lotus.
For the US market, this vehicle was introduced as the Impulse in 1983. For the 1983 and 1984 model years, only one engine was available, the 2.0 L SOHC I4 engine, rated at 90 hp, 108 ft�lbf. A turbocharged model was introduced in 1985, with a 2.0 L SOHC I4 engine rated at 140 hp and 166 ft�lbf. The 1988 model year saw several changes. Mild exterior and interior changes were made to the appearance of the vehicle (a larger rear spoiler, fixed headlights without pop up covers, etc.). The 2.0 L non-turbo engine was replaced with a 2.3 L SOHC I4 engine, rated at 110 hp, 127 ft�lbf (this engine was offered only in the US market). All Impulses received a Lotus-tuned suspension beginning in the 1988 model year, which consisted of redesigned sway bars, stiffer dampers, and a change in previous spring rates.
In the US market, the Impulse was marketed as "everything standard", meaning that all Impulses came with all available equipment for the vehicles model year, and only two trim levels offered: non-turbo and Turbo. There were, however, some special edition models, most notably the RS model of the 1987 model year, available only in white body color with pewter color trim, and featuring the stiffest suspension available on any Impulse, very close to the Irmscher suspension sold only in Japan. For the 1989 model year, a "Special Edition" non-turbo model was offered, which was equipped with the Turbo model wheels and interior trim.
The vehicle was sold as the Piazza in Europe and Australia, though introduced into these markets in 1985 or later. In the UK the Piazza was sold in most of the trim levels offered in Japan, in both Turbo and Non-turbo forms. In Australia, the Piazza was introduced very late (April 1986), and offered only in Turbo form.
Performance of the Turbo model was comparable to the Mitsubishi Starion or Dodge Conquest, as demonstrated by the fact that the acceleration and handling numbers reported by the auto enthusiast magazines were within 0.1�0.2 seconds between the vehicles.
In the US, the Impulse was replaced by the second generation Impulse after the end of the 1989 model year. However, in Japan, the first generation Piazza continued production and was available through the 1991 model year.
Here are interior shots of the car... all the the cars controls, a/c, cruise control, accessory buttons, etc are on two sattelite pods in front of the steering wheel.
Right side pod
Left side pod
Standard Technics radio with equalizer
another view of the dash with Impulse/lotus emblem on right
driver side view
Here is the Isuzu Timeline from 1971- 2006
1971, General Motors Corporation buys 32.4% of Isuzu and subcontracts them to make Chevy Luv pickup trucks.
1981, against the direct protest of General Motors, Isuzu puts the Piazza and Impulse into production, embarrassing GM because the newly redesigned Camaro and Trans Am pale in comparison to the Giugiaro designed sports coupe. This begins GM's vendetta against Isuzu.
1984, GM begins reselling rebadged Geminis under the Spectrum name, but, as a condition of the arrangement, restricts Isuzu's rights to advertise their own cars in the US and European markets and imposes quotas on the number of vehicles Isuzu can sell. This effectively destroys any chance for Isuzu to build brand consciousness, brand loyalty, and a reputation as a car builder, in all markets outside Japan.
GM imposed design changes on the Gemini and did not have the courtesy to ask the designer, Giugiaro, for permission to make the changes to his design. Giugiaro took this as an insult and not only refused to do any further work with Isuzu and GM, but for many years, he denied having designed the Gemini.
1989, GM begins reselling rebadged Gemini Coupes under the Geo Storm name. This vehicle outsells GM's own domestically produced Cavalier, Sunbird, Corsica, and Beretta, combined, causing great embarrassment for GM.
1994, GM discontinues their Storm model, eliminating close to 95% of Isuzu sales of cars leaving Isuzu with weak name recognition and little hope of recovering from this financial blow. This combines with the collapse of the Japanese economy after Isuzu went up market to more luxurious and more expensive models with their 1990-93 redesign of their cars, and Isuzu decided to discontinue car sales.
1994, Isuzu constructs a shrine to the much missed Gemini car in their Fujisawa plant.
~1998, Isuzu attempts to purchase then financially troubled Nissan Motor Company in order to acquire a name and a company to build passenger cars under.
1999, GM acquires 49% of Isuzu, controlling interest, but due to Japanese laws restricting foreign ownership of Japanese corporations and Japanese labor laws which strictly follow seniority, GM is unable to appoint an American to head Isuzu and must continue to deal with Isuzu management's continued resistance to GM domination. GM is instead allowed to install a non-voting "advisor" to the corporate board.
July, 2000, GM asks Suzuki, Isuzu, and Toyota, to rebadge and sell Chevrolet, Opel, and Saturn small car models to increase global sales of those GM models. Suzuki and Isuzu refuse. Toyota rebadges and sells the Chevrolet Cavalier as the Toyota Cavalier, with very limited sucess, mostly only to fleet buyers (to delivery companies and for businesses needing company cars). Saturn established its own vehicle distribution network. Acceptance by the Japanese buying public is low, sales peaking at 1,300 units per year, due to poor quality and value comparison to Toyota's domestic product, which is used by most as a benchmark.
2001, Isuzu lays off 25% of their international work force due to financial losses and ailing sales.
2002, Isuzu negotiates a $84 million debt restructure with it's Japanese bank and buys 37% ownership back from GM, reducing GM's ownership of Isuzu to 12%. GM's "advisor" on the corporate board is replaced by a position filled by the Japanese bank, who is allowed a vote. As part of the restructuring, Isuzu sells the Lafayette, Indiana plant to Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), withdrawing completely from their joint SUV venture with GM. The GM built Trailblazer set to be rebadged as an Isuzu Ascender seems all but dead on arrival as Isuzu plans for production of their own SUVs in Thailand.
2003, Isuzu finds itself in the enviable position of being one of only three commercial truck producers in Japan who is selling diesel trucks that comply with the new, strict emissions laws for the Tokyo metropolitan area, which require particle scrubbers for exhaust. The law outlaws the use of trucks without these devices in and around the four prefectures surrounding Tokyo, and as no aftermarket retrofit is available, truck operators are required to buy new trucks. Mazda, unable to develop a commercial truck that complies with the new emissions laws, subcontracts all it's commercial truck production to Isuzu. Isuzu leads commercial truck sales in Japan and shows a profit for the first half of 2003 for the first time in decades. Isuzu's stock showed a 400% increase in value (from 50 yen/share to 200 yen/share).
2003, Isuzu releases rendered images of what they call "a sports coupe" which is described to be in the vane of such noted Isuzu cars as the Bellett 1600GTR and the Giugiaro designed 117 Coupe.
2003, Sources within American Isuzu Motors vehicle distribution (US market vehicle distributor) indicate that Isuzu intends to severe all ties with GM by 2007 (this can be confirmed on Isuzu's website in their Three Year Business Plan which states one of its primary recapitalization goal as "Retire GM's shareholding without consideration"), ending all joint ventures, rebadging, parts sharing, and cooperative efforts and purchasing back all of the remaining 12% of stock owned by GM. The Rodeo and Axiom (now made by Subaru at the Lafayette, Indiana plant) will be discontinued at or shortly after the end of the 2004 model year. There will be no serious effort to market the GM made Ascender through the 2005 and 2006 model years, after which Isuzu's contract to sell that vehicle will end. Isuzu plans to introduce at least two completely new models in late 2006, totally designed and manufactured by Isuzu and with no ties to GM.
January 2004, Isuzu stock passes 235 Yen per share, a 470% increase since Spring 2003.
February 2004, Sources within American Isuzu Motors public relations and vehicle development departments indicate that the replacement for the Isuzu Trooper will be built on the Isuzu D-Max/Colorado platform in Thailand and that model should be introduced as a 2005 1/2 model year vehicle. Work continues on this vehicle within the Ceritos headquarters of AIM where the vehicle is referred to in house simply as "the new Trooper". Current plans are that the concept car for this vehicle will be introduced at the Detroit Auto Show and later displayed at the Chicago Auto Show. Further plans are to introduce the Thailand made D-Max pickup into the US market, also hopefully in 2006.
Isuzu's PR department was very proud to point out that the 250 HP 6VE1 V6 direct injection engine has received accolades and awards from both Popular Science Magazine and Ward's Automotive. Direct injection is seen as the future for gasoline engines to improve economy, emissions, and power output, and Isuzu's engine has been held out as one of the best in the industry. In addition to this, Isuzu plans to push diesel engine powered models in their SUV lineup as an alternative to other manufacturer's hybrid vehicle offerings. Diesel offers the same environmental benefits with power, drivability, range, and cost that is comparable or favorable to gasoline. The problem is that the US market has not been exposed to many of the better diesel powered vehicles which are almost indistinguishable from their gasoline powered equivalents. The US market has seen mostly very tempermental and difficult to drive, and the reputation of diesel powerplants has suffered in this market as a result of this. General Motors, Ford, and Daimler/Chysler have already expanded their SUV and pickup offerings with diesel offerings (to help them meet tightening CAFE standards) and have begun marketing campaigns to improve the reputation of diesel power in the US, and Isuzu plans to reap the benefits of these efforts by following the promotional campaigns of the US manufacturers with their own campaign to reinforce diesel's improved reputation and point out that Isuzu is the oldest, most experiences diesel manufacturer in the world, offering better quality and higher performing diesel products at lower prices than the US makers.
2005 is seen as the transition year between the old GM dominated Isuzu and the new Isuzu that is free to build, sell, and advertise whatever, wherever, whenever, and in whatever quantity they like. Getting past a tight year which their only offerings will be the rebadged, GM made Ascender, will be the challenge, but they are already on track to surpass their needed sales minimum in the US market by 20,000 units in this fiscal year. The only remaining concern is that now that all decisions will be made by Isuzu in Japan, the US office hopes to be allotted a large enough advertising budget to allow for a serious promotional effort for what amounts to a reintroduction of the marque in the US market.
Early April 2004, Isuzu stock passes 265 Yen per share, a 550% increase since Spring 2003.
Mid April 2004, Isuzu stock passes 310 Yen per share.
July 2004, Isuzu stock passes 323 Yen per share.
August 2004, Sources within Japan indicate that Isuzu Motors has announced, within their domestic market, the introduction of the "D-Max Hi Lander" sport utility vehicle (Trooper replacement) will be manufactured in Thailand and introduced in Thailand for the 2005 model year. This strategy introduces the SUV first into the market dominated by the D-Max Pickup, that vehicle being the number one selling automobile in the large Thai market. The Thai made D-Max Hi-Lander will then be introduced into the Japanese home market in 2006.
August 2004, Dutch shipping company TPG TNT Logistics wins a $48.25 Million contract to pack and ship "car parts" from Isuzu plants around the world to assembly plants in Thailand. Note the specific use of the phrase "car parts", quoted directly from the Reuters story, which conspicously did not use the phrase "truck parts".
August 2004, Universal Motors Israel is in talks with "car maker Isuzu" Motors for Central European sales and distribution rights. Again note Reuters use of the word "car" and their specific omission of the word "truck". Also note that Isuzu is expanding their distribution network.
September 2004, Isuzu reports to the Daily Yomiuri newspaper that they are now exporting the D-Max Pickup to 60 countries outside Thailand and plan to increase that number to 100 countries over the next year. Production resumes at a second assembly plant outside Bankock that will increase production from 240,000 to 320,000 units annually.
November 2-7, 2004, Isuzu displayed both its commercial and sport utility vehicles at the "The 38th Tokyo Motor Show for Commercial & Barrier-free Vehicles". This was the Japanese debut of the new 2005 Isuzu Crosswind Sportivo AUV, which forshadows the interoduction of the 2005 Isuzu Adventure Master midsized utility, that is expected to be the "Ford Everest Killer" in the Southeast Asian Market. The Crosswind is made in the Philippines (the AM will be also) and Isuzu punctuated this by displaying the vehicle flanked by two lovely Filipino race queen models. Isuzu did not have a concept vehicle on display but did have a guest speaker, "Ida-san" (this is the affectionate nick name that Isuzu enthusiasts use for Isuzu Motors president Yoshinori Ida), who stated confidently that he expects Isuzu's prosperity to continue and for Isuzu, in the coming years, to retake its position in the upper tier of Japanese automakers. Isuzu also displayed it's handicap accessible Giga over the road truck.
Early November 2004, Isuzu stock hits 325 Yen per share, recovering from July's market scare over oil prices more quickly than the majority of Japanese stocks.
Mid November 2004, Reuters, the Associated Press, and the Detroit Times all report that GM's holding in Isuzu has been decreased from 12% in January of 2003 to 9% as of November 17, 2004.
November 16, 2004, Autoweek confirms what was reported in this very time line in February of 2004 and also in 2003: As the stocks of the discontinued Rodeo and Axiom models run out, Isuzu will expend minimal efforts marketing the GM made Ascender and wait out the end the contract which obligates them to sell the vehicle, tightenning its belt and anticipating the introduction of the Thai made pickup and mid and small size SUV replacements slated for introduction in 2006. Autoweek's Kathy Jackson quotes Scott Lasher, Isuzu dealership owner in Sacramento and Chip Letzgus, spokesman for American Isuzu Motors, in this somewhat late in delivery, but always appreciated confirmation of what was reported here over nine months earlier.
November 17, 2004, Mitsubishi Corp. (whose divisions include banking, steel manufacturing, machinery manufacturing, etc.) purchases $90 million in preferred shares of Isuzu stock, most likely from Mizuho Corporate Bank and other banks, making Mitsubishi Corp. the second largest stake holder in Isuzu at around 8%. It is important to note that Mitsubishi Motors, owned by Mitsubishi Corp., is one of only two Japanese automakers currently operating in the red (the other is Subaru ["Subaru hopes the SUV (B9X) will help it shake off the rust that has hampered sales in recent years", Philadelphia Business Journal; "Subaru maker Fuji Heavy's H1 op profit down 15 pct", Reuters]). Mitsubishi has suffered due to defect cover ups, lawsuits from accidents caused by defects, total loss of consumer confidence in their products within Japan, loss of government contracts due to the same, being banned from selling vehicles in the growing China market for the same, and an unrelated loss of US sales due to record numbers of defaults on zero-down financing sales. Mitsubishi was refused a bailout by Daimler and plans to rebadge Mitsubishi small cars as Nissans in Japan fell through. Could Mitsubishi Corp.'s investment in Isuzu lead to a rebadging of Lancers and Colts under the Isuzu name?
Mid November 2004, on November 17, Itochu Corp. trading house buys $67 million in preferred shares of Isuzu stock, most likely from Mizuho Corporate Bank and other banks, making it the third largest stake holder in Isuzu.
November 18, 2004, Isuzu released a new three year plan and revealed that their half fiscal year profits had risen 44%, an increase of $105 million. Isuzu released a new and more agressive three-year-plan, stating that their goals in the previous plan of 2002 were already in sight. Increased production and expanding into new markets were the main focus of the new plan, which means that we are very likely to see the D-Max and the Mu-7 and Hi-Lander SUVs, based on the D-Max, in the US, as well as other passenger offerings. Isuzu also announced a bold plan to reduce capital by buying back $120 million in preferred shares. The size of such a stock buy back plan suggests a further reduction of GM's holdings in Isuzu. On the news of the profit announcement, new three-year-plan, and the plan to buy back the referred shares, Isuzu's common stock bounced up 20 points.
Mid December, 2004, reports in the AP, Reuters, and Just-Auto.Com indicate that once Isuzu executes the stock buy back and conversion of preferred shares to common shares, Mitsubishi will supplant General Motors as the largest share holder in Isuzu with 11 percent, Itochu will be third with 6 percent.
Mid December, 2004, Isuzu President Iide issued a public statement asking for reinvestment by GM. Outside Isuzu, this appears to be an act of "aisatsu", a tradition calling for all businessmen to visit their business contacts at other companies in the first days of January of each New Year, in order to express how much they value continuing their business relationships in the future, whether they want to continue a business relationship with the individual or not. The timing of Mr. Iide's statement corresponds with the completion of the previous fiscal year and beginning of the new fiscal year, and this has all the appearances of an act of "aisatsu" and that Isuzu really doesn't want GM to own any more of their shares. However, sources within Isuzu Motors public relations and vehicle development departments see this more in the context that Isuzu is now on firm financial footing, and is in the position of power to dictate the terms and conditions to an ailing GM, seeking a financial agreement that would benefit Isuzu instead of the previous usurious relationship dictated by GM.
January 2005, Isuzu Motors and Mitsubishi Corp. have sign an agreement with Malaysian auto firm DRB-Hicom Bhd, who has been the distributor of Isuzu vehicles in the Malasian market (second largest in Asia behind the Philipines) for 20 years. DRB will assemble the Isuzu pickups, SUVs, and other "vehicles" in Pahang which it will then sell in Malasia. DRB currently assembles vehicles for Audi, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi and Proton for the Malasian market, and have a multitude of passenger car specific assembly lines that are a significant asset to Isuzu for future passenger car (sedan or coupe) development and manufacture.
February 2005, Isuzu secures a $2.89 Billion capitol investment from Japanese banks. This shows a great deal of confidence from the Japanese financial institutions in the current success of Isuzu and future outlook for the company.
February 2005, Sources within American Isuzu Motors public relations and vehicle development departments indicate that Isuzu will not sell the MU-7 vehicle into the US. They do not see enough potential sales volume by the time the vehicle could be certified for importation.
The D-Max Pickup, will not be imported from Thailand due to continuation of high import tariffs that were expected to be withdrawn or expire. The current political situation in the US makes it unlikely that politicians would suggest the lifting of these protectionist tariffs. Isuzu will rebadge the Colorado pickup (which Isuzu designed). The question remains as to if Japanese sheet metal will be imported for the Isuzu model, or if simple badge and grille changes are made to differentiate the models. Isuzu had also considered rebadging the Equinox, but did not see the vehicle as fitting the current direction of the company.
The sale of the Lafayette, Indiana assembly plant to Subaru (now being used to assemble the B9 Tribeca), seems to have caused difficulties in the area of importation vs. domestic assembly for US market sales. However, Isuzu's new partner, Mitsubishi, has announced that they are looking for someone to buy their entire North American manufacturing operation...
The Trooper will not be imported to the US again until a new generation design is put into production, but the current generation Trooper is enjoying such high sales volume in Asia that plans for a redesign are not seen in the immediate future.
The new sister relationship with Mitsubishi has not been made clear yet, but is expected to involve either shared raw material and OE supplier sources to reduce costs through higher volume, or shared engineering and manufacturing of sister models (rebadging of Mitsubishi passenger car models as Isuzus or development of shared platforms to be used by both partners.
GM has begun marketing the Isuzu made V6 Diesel under its Duramax name in comparison to less environmentally friendly offerings by Dodge/Cummins and Ford. This appears to foreshadow an increase in the Isuzu made Duramax range to sell on the reputation of the well established and respected 6.6 liter. We can expect to see the 3.0 liter I-4 Isuzu Diesel for small and mid sized pickups and the 1.7 liter Isuzu Diesel in small cars like the Cobalt, under the Duramax name in the near future.
Isuzu is now not only designing the complete line of GM Commercial Vehicle offerings, but has now been put in charge of marketing the complete line itself, with no more GM involvement in the commercial vehicle line.
Late March 2005, the Detroit News confirms that the MU-7 will not be imported to the US market and the introduction of the 2006 model i-280 and i-350 model pickups, which will be rebadged Chevrolet Colorado pickup. However, the Detroit News fails to credit the fact that Isuzu designed and engineered the Colorado truck for GM, based on the D-Max design that Isuzu was selling in Asia over a year before the Colorado hit the US market.
May 2005, Isuzu increases its ownership of the Chinese light truck maker Quiling Motors from 7% to 20% by purchasing 325 million shares for approximately $87.36 million. This represents a major expansion of Isuzu into the Chinese market.
May 2005, "Isuzu Motors sees record group profits on strong overseas sales". 2004 FY profits rose 9.7 percent ($560 million), pretax profit up 12.1% ($854 million), and a 4.4% rise in sales ($13.9 billion total). Isuzu announced it will resume paying dividends of 1.5 yen per share on its stock, for the first time in seven years. Consolidation of the Thai sales unit and strong overseas sales is seen as the primary drive that brought these favorable conditions.
May 2005, Isuzu stock surges on the announcement that they will redeem $481.2 million worth of convertible bonds, 14 months ahead of their maturity. Goldman Sachs brokerage has raised Isuzu Motor's rating from "In-Line" to "Outperform".
June 2005, General Motors stock is downgraded to "Junk Bond" status, as the company shows a $1.1 Billion loss of sales, a loss of over one third in revenue in the first quarter of 2005. GM claims their pension obligation to retired workers is adding $1,500 to the cost of each vehicle, and that at this time, each current employee is paying the pension of 2.5 retired workers. GM has responded by announcing that they will cut 25,000 jobs, eliminate redundant vehicle models (Chevy, Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac, etc. rebadgings of the same platform vehicle) and is now offering "employee discount pricing" to all customers. So, further reduction of work force so that each current employee is paying for 3.5 retired workers and selling vehicles at a further loss is apparently the best way to improve the current death spiral the company is in. As Isuzu is the only "GM Affiliate" that is currently showing a profit, is it much of a stretch to expect that GM will ask Isuzu for a bail out and debt restructuring? Could we see Isuzu own 20% of GM in the near future? How will Detroit like being told how to run their company by the Japanese?
June 2005, MSNBC's Motley Fool, Rich Smith, states "Toyota wants to buy GM". He suggests that GM CEO Rick Wagoner's recent trip to Toyota HQ at the Aichi Expo was not to discuss sharing hybrid technology (which GM has none of to share), but rather to discuss a buyout. Smith indicates that Toyota has enough cash on hand to buy all of GM's stock outright, just as Daimler did when it acquired Chrysler.
July 2005, Isuzu recieves a contract to supply 150,000 of its super clean burning diesel engines to GM for use in vehicles for the North American market.
Late July 2005, Isuzu stock passes 322 Yen per Share. At this time, Isuzu is the only profitable "GM Affiliate".
End of August 2005, Isuzu stock passes 344 Yen per Share.
Beginning of September 2005, Isuzu stock passes 372 Yen per Share.
End of September 2005, Isuzu stock passes 438 Yen per Share.
In recent years, the Detroit International Auto Show has become increasingly irrelavent. In 2005, the Chicago International Auto Show eclipsed the Detroit show as the largest, approximately 1 1/2 times larger than the Detroit show. And other shows throughout the US continue to surpass the features and amenities of the Detroit show. This has mostly to do with the fact that Detroit show is held at the Detroit Civic Center, which is much smaller than the newer convention centers in other cities, and is showing its age. Only American manufacturers introduce new models at the Detroit show, Japanese manufacturers introduce their new models at the Tokyo show and European manufacturers introduce their new models at the Frankfurt show. Quite frankly, the American manufacturers are not introducing or even manufacturing much that is very exciting, which only adds to the irrelavence of the Detroit show. Isuzu is again at the forefront of the industry, in announcing that they will not have a display at the Detroit show beginning in 2006, choosing to focus their energies on more relavent North American shows.
After Isuzu made this announcement, Aston Martin announced that it would also skip the Detroit show this year.
Beginning of October 2005, GM continues to divest itself of Japanese "partners", when it sells all its stock in Subaru/Fuji Heavy Industries to Toyota. This, after reducing its control of Isuzu from 37% in 2002 to their current minority share holder status of about 8%. Or, perhaps it would be better to say that the Japanese are divesting themselves of GM's boat anchor like negative influence, as their sales continue a death spiral. Either way, it's good news for everyone except GM.
Beginning of October 2005, Isuzu stock passes 480 Yen per Share.
End of October, 2005, GM's yard sale continues. Reuters announced that GM will sell its Australian and South African truck divisions to Isuzu. GM keeps selling off pieces, and Japanese companies keep buying.
Beginning of November 2005, Isuzu stock hits 509 Yen per Share.
Middle of November 2005, Bloomberg News and the International Herald Tribune report that General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC) has announced it will sell off its real estate assets in Japan, part of the $482 billion worth of assets that are to be sold off to cover the mounting losses in GM's shrinking global sales.
In the same report, Bloomberg News and the International Herald Tribune confirmend that GM's stake in Isuzu had been reduced to 8%, and that Isuzu announced that their 2006 FY profit forcast has been raised by 10% to $462 million. 2006 FY sales forecast was raised to $13 billion. Non pickup truck sales are expected to double from 150,000 to 300,000 units. Mizuho Investors Securities has rated Isuzu's stock as "outperform" (which is on the opposite end of the scale from GM's rating of "junk").
January 2006, Reuters reports that Isuzu reported a 12% increase in sales in 2005 and revised its 2006 sales expectation up to 7%. Isuzu also announced that it intends to reinvest $260 Million of its profits into further advancing diesel technology. On this news, Isuzu stock surged up 5.26% compared to the market average 2% increase over the same time period. Reuters further confirmed that GM's holding in Isuzu has been reduced to 8%.
March 2006, Bloomberg News and Reuters report that GM will sell off most of its stake in Suzuki, as the GM yard sale of Japanese stock continues. GM will sell off 17% of its stock in Suzuki, reducing its ownership from 20% to 3%, and using the $2 billion to offset GM's mounting losses from shrinking sales.
In a related story, Reuters confirmed GM's stake in Isuzu has shrunk to 7.9%.
Mid March, 2006, Sources within American Isuzu Motors public relations indicate that Isuzu has been concentrating on building up its commercial vehicle program, purchasing General Motor's distribution networks in Mexico and Australia and merging American Isuzu Motors Inc. with Isuzu Motors of America. The North American passenger vehicle distribution program is now under the commercial vehicle and power train distribution umbrella. This provides greater financial stability to the passenger vehicle program.
As emissions tighten in the US on marine engines and diesel tractor trailers, Isuzu is positioning itself to be a major supplier of marine replacement engines (expected legislation will prohibit rebuilding these engines) and power generator units which will be required when tractor trailers are prohibited from idling with their engines running.
The Trooper has gone out of production and has been discontinued in its last market, the UK. It's replacement is expected to be built on the D Max platform, possibly a larger next generation MU-7 which would be too large to be a Rodeo replacement.
The I-280 and I-350 Pickup line will see the introduction of diesel engines next year, specifically the 4JX1 3 liter inline four cylinder with variable valve timing and direct injection, and the 4JA1 SOHC 2.5 liter non-turbo variant as well.
Isuzu Japan still seems to still be opperating under extremely an tight, famine mindset, while the financial situation seems to have turned for the better, and the management hasn't caught on yet. In addition to this, several within Isuzu have pointed out that their passenger vehicle lineup will have to be more well rounded (Read: Include Cars). One pointed out that Land Rover is the only company selling only SUVs, and Isuzu can not expect to sell Troopers at Land Rover prices, which is the only way Land Rover survives as a "SUV only" manufacturer.
Diesel technology is still seen as the future with rising gasoline prices. Hybrid technology is seen as a short term fad, with Toyota selling these vehicles at dramatic losses, and then absorbing the costs of expensive motor and battery replacements under warranty, with the only goal being to establish Toyota as the leader in this technology. Diesel engine usage in passenger vehicles is seen by Isuzu as a more permanent and dependable alternative, as has been done so well by Audi, Mercedes, and even GM in Europe. Remember, GM buys all those diesel engines from Isuzu, and Isuzu already supplies all of the major components to build a car to GM and others, even the 4EE2 1.7 liter, DOHC, variable valve timing, direct injection, passenger car engine, as well as numerous transmissions supplied for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Saturn, Opel, and Vauxhall. Isuzu need only build their own body to accept all the pieces they already make for other companies, and Japan's Oldest Car Maker will be back making cars.
March 29, 2006, Reuters reports that General Motors has notified Isuzu Motors of GM's intent to sell it's remaining 7.9% stake in Isuzu. GM also stated they had approached Mitsubishi Trading, Itochu, and Mizuho Corporate Bank as possible buyers.
Isuzu stock surged up ten points on this news.
After GM announced it was selling off its stake in Suzuki earlier this month, GM denied any plans to sell its dwindling stake in Isuzu. But as it turns out, GM's yard sale of Japanese stock continues, to the benefit of all of the Japanese companies who finally find themselves out from under GM's oppressive thumb.
April 11, 2006, Isuzu is now free of General Motors! In a Reuters story, GM has stated that they are selling their remaining 7.9% stake as follows: 3.5% will be purchased by Mitsubishi Corp., 3.5% will be purchased by Itochu Corp., and .9% will be purchased by Mizuho Corporate Bank. GM will sell its 89 million shares for $300 million, based on the average price of the stock in the last thirty days, which is 10% lower than the current market value.
Mid May, 2006, Reuters reports that after shedding ties with GM, Isuzu reported a 4.0 percent rise in operating profit. Isuzu doubled its stock dividend payment to 3 Yen, issued a forecast for next year's dividend payment to be 4 Yen, and stock surged up 4.7% on this news.
Early November, 2006, Reuters reports that Toyota has announced that it will buy 100 million shares of Isuzu stock, a 6% stake in the company, as part of a joint venture where Isuzu is to become the primary supplier of diesel engines for Toyota's small and compact cars. Toyota is responding to pressure from Honda and others who have recently expanded their small car strategies from hybrid only to also include diesel offerings. Toyota will now be the third largest owner of Isuzu shares at 6%, behind Mitsubishi Corp. with 9% and Itochu at 7%. Isuzu's shares surged up on the news by 12% by 56 yen per share. Sources in Japan cite this as the first sign of Isuzu's re entry into the small car market, expecting that Isuzu will be selling rebadged versions of the Toyota cars for which it is supplying engines.
Early November, 2006, Reuters and Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Isuzu will pull out of its joint diesel engine programs with General Motors in Moraine, Ohio (DMAX Ltd.), and Tychy, Poland (Isuzu Motors Polska Sp.), and replace GM with their new partner, Toyota. The Ohio venture produces the 6.6-litre V8 diesel engine for Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, and the Tychy venture produces the 4EE1 1.7 liter diesel engine used in half of Opel's small cars. Such a move by Isuzu would cripple GM. Isuzu spokesman Kouitsu Mabuchi denied the report, refusing to comment further.
The concept drawing released by Isuzu and the written statement that accompanied it indicate it to be the new Sports Coupe(s). (Remember, Japanese has no plural form and this will be important immediately below).
One source indicates both cars are two different trim levels of the same model vehicle which is to compete with such Japanese piers as the Honda Integra (Acura RSX in the US) and Toyota Celica, both considered the dominant specialty small cars in the Japanese domestic market.
A second source indicates that these are in fact two different models following the recent auto industry trend for retro styling. The darker color car in the background is indicated as the "New Bellett GTR", a compact sports coupe approximately 158 inches in length with a 94 inch wheel base, a two door four seat with very rounded styling and flared fenders with a silhouette surprisingly similar to the Audi TT. The retro exterior elements that draw from the original Bellett GTR are the composition of the grille with integrated quad style headlamps, the two chromed bars across the grille itself, black painted hood, antenna ariel over the center of the windshield, crease lines in the hood, and three box notch back proportion. This vehicle would be expected to have a four cylinder engine, likely a 2 liter gasoline engine, with DOHC and direct injection, typically a gasoline variant from one of the diesel lines, from either the 4E engine series, or preferably the 4J engine series (likely a destroked 4JA1), but no firm information on drivetrain layout. This model would fill the role of the affordable sporty model in the lineup. Meanwhile, the lighter colored car in the foreground is described as the "New 117 Coupe", a mid sized sports coupe approximately 168 inches in length with a 101 inch wheel base, a two door four seat with a sloped rear window somewhat like a fast back body style. The retro exterior elements that draw form the original 117 Coupe are again the composition of the grille with integrated quad style headlamps, this time with the lower edge of four round lamps extending below the lower grille line, distinctive hexagonal emblem with bar extending to the left and right, flat hood devoid of creases, metal tone trim pieces, and the sloping rear window and rear trunk lid. This vehicle is expected to be rear wheel drive with the 250 HP 6VE1 V6 direct injection engine. This model would be an image car to compete with such cars as the Nissan 350Z and Mazda RX8.
Isuzu appears back on track to build cars.