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GM ending production of Isuzu's seven-seat Ascender ute

KATHY JACKSON | Automotive News

Posted Date: 12/20/05

LOS ANGELES -- General Motors has put a lump of coal in Isuzu's Christmas stocking.

GM will end production of the seven-seat Isuzu Ascender in February when it closes its assembly plant in Oklahoma City. The model accounted for 22.5 percent of Isuzu's U.S. sales of 11,388 this year through November.

The loss is more dreary news for dealers, who will limp along with only three poor-selling vehicles: the five-seat Ascender and the i280 and i350 pickups. The pickups are based on the GMC Canyon.

"It's unfortunate from our standpoint, because the Ascender seven-passenger has been a successful and profitable part of our lineup since its introduction in 2003," Terry Maloney, president of Isuzu Motors America, said in a letter to dealers.

He added, though, that Isuzu's U.S. unit will post a profit for fiscal 2005 for the first time since 2000. The U.S. unit has cut costs drastically.

"Be assured that I am confident about our future, and I strongly encourage you to share that confidence," Maloney said.

Scott Lasher, owner of Lasher Isuzu in Sacramento, Calif., and chairman of the Isuzu dealer council, said the big Ascender represented only about 10 percent of his sales.

"Still, it's hard to lose product when you have a narrow product offering in the first place," he says. But, he adds, "The pickups are starting to catch on."

Earlier this year Isuzu Motors Ltd. projected it would generate $46.6 million in North American operating profits this year, compared with a $3.7 million loss last year. But it expected commercial trucks, not light vehicles, to account for most of the turnaround.

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GenXr said:
Does anyone know why Isuzu canned the Trooper after 2002? Was it a poor selling vehicle?
When we visited Isuzu HQ back in 2000, we were told this:

The Trooper was scheduled for a re-design in the late 90s. The Consumer's Union lawsuit (based on the false Trooper rollover claims) that Isuzu fought (and won) sucked up the funds that Isuzu needed to redesign the Trooper. If you remember, that lawsuit and GM pulling out left Isuzu with very little money. The Trooper was ultimately abandoned because of 2002 safety requirements in the US. The frame on the Trooper was too strong: that is the 02 requirements have crumple-zone requirements that were designed to protect smaller vehicles in a crash. Back in 2000 Isuzu knew that they wouldn't be redesigning the Trooper and as such it would be a discontinued model, at least in the US. They did however not use the Trooper name on another vehicle so that their strong name would stay available for a future new Trooper. The nice folks at Isuzu were excited about the new Axiom and the designers had something going on that they successfully kept from our prying eyes. I can guess that that was the Ascender designs, but it may have been for a vehicle that didn't make it to production.


131 Posts
Isuzu pretty much pulled out of the SUV business (in America and Japan). They stopped the production of their Amigo, Rodeo and Trooper in 2002 not only in the US, but in their Japanese homeland also:

By 2000 Isuzu realized that the US and Japanese SUV markets were to flooded to be competitive. They also had made a move from passenger vehicles to commercial heavy and light goods vehicles and deisal engine manufacture. This is their main production drive now and they have been one of the top manufactures in this area. This is the present day Japanese Isuzu Product lineup:

Isuzu did intend on remaining in the SUV market in the areas that are still growing and don't have as competitive a market. Which is why Isuzu SUV's are being targeted for the UK, Europe, China, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. This is with their world product lineup:

One of their often changing plans were to remain in the US with Isuzu badged GM products until they finished their recuperation and returned with a new line-up. However, since that plan was made, a lot has changed. GM is very close to falling from the world's leading manufacture to Toyota, GM also has rumors of bankruptcy. So, pulling GM's failing SUV lineup from Isuzu isn't a surprise.

Personally, I believe Isuzu has realized that the US market is not worth the costs required to remain. Toyota really did a very good job of beating the Isuzu brand in Japan. And between Toyota and all the US makers SUV's in the US, it leaves little room for Isuzu.
Isuzu has made a very good business decision and gone to markets that they can lead the SUV market. All of the markets listed above (UK, China, etc.) GM/Ford/Toyota have little to no SUV presence.
Here's GM's Chinese line-up, notice a big hole in the SUV area?
This allows Isuzu to establish their name and credibility required to become the top SUV seller for these markets.
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