Isuzu took the wraps off a concept pickup that gives strong hints as to the
direction of an upcoming collaboration between the Japanese automaker and its
American affiliate, General Motors. The two manufacturers are in the process of
developing a successor to the Chevrolet Luv compact pickup, which is expected to
have global sales volumes of around 500,000 units a year. According to Isuzu CEO
Yoshinori Ida, “We expect this to be the highest-volume product in our 30-year
Alliance Trouble at GM, DC by Joseph Szczesny (1/29/2001)
Suzuki Covie 2001 Tokyo conceptEnlarge Photo
SUZUKI CHARGES AHEAD WITH EV CONCEPT. The tiny Covie electric vehicle aims to be green right from the start. The 2-seat battery car relies on a lightweight plastic body to help boost its range. Meanwhile, to charge up, Covie could be hooked to a home fuel cell system that would use natural gas to generate electricity as needed with virtually no harmful emissions. The high-tech runabout also features a communications link allowing the driver to monitor and even operate home appliances remotely.
Chevrolet eCruze concept Tokyo 2001Enlarge Photo
CRUZING VIRTUAL REALITY. The eCruze is a high-tech version of the newly-introduced Chevrolet Cruze, which will go on sale in Japan later this month. The show car features a wide array of mobile office, communications and entertainment systems, ranging from a video conferencing system to an onboard movie system able to download films off the Internet. There are no specific plans to put eCruze into production, though the 2002 Cruze features a built-in navigation system. Consumers can check out the high-tech show car at www.ecruze.com.
ISUZU & TOYOTA EYEING ENGINE ALLIANCE. If all goes according to preliminary plans, Isuzu would supply 4.0-liter and 5.0-liter Duramax diesel engines for use in Toyota pickups and SUVs sold in North America, starting in 2003. The move could position Toyota as a player in a much larger segment of the light truck market than it currently competes in. But the talks are a bit surprising because of Isuzu’s 30-year ties to General Motors, its largest shareholder, and a 40-percent partner in the DMAX Ltd. diesel operation in Moraine, Ohio. Currently, DMAX solely supplies the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. But the plant could use other customers as it gets ready to boost production from 100,000 to 300,000 engines annually. GM officials have indicated they will not oppose any deal between Isuzu and Toyota.
GM SEEKS JAMA SPOT. General Motors hopes to become the first American-based automaker to gain a spot on the membership roster of the Japanese Automotive Manufacturers Association. “We want to be part of the club,” said GM Chairman Jack Smith, noting that JAMA is a powerful lobbying body that has frequently helped steer Japanese government policies on automotive issues. GM has just become eligible for membership with the launch of its new Chevrolet Cruze, the first vehicle it has produced in Japan since 1939. There’s no word if GM’s application will be accepted. Conceivably, Ford Motor Co. might also seek a seat on the JAMA board, as it produces vehicles in Japan through its own Asian affiliate, Mazda Motors.