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Isuzu Drops Out of the U.S. Market; Who's Next?

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Isuzu's long battle to stay in the U.S. market ends next year, as the Japanese automaker announced today that it would stop selling new vehicles in the U.S. as of January 31, 2009.

Isuzu's withdrawal has been expected for years. In the early 1990s, the company sat at the forefront of the truck market with its Trooper sport-utility vehicle. But troubles in its home market--and a lack of cash to develop more sport-utes and crossovers like the ill-fated Axiom from 2002--hamstrung the brand, which resorted to selling rebadged GM pickups and sport-utes and halting all passenger-car sales as it tried to find its footing.

The Wall Street Journal points out that in 2007, Isuzu sold only 7906 vehicles here--roughly four days' worth of production for the Ford F-Series pickups.

The final death knell for Isuzu likely came as GM declined to provide it with a replacement for the i290 and i370 pickup trucks, which are based on the Chevrolet Colorado, and as GM is set to cancel the mid-size SUVs like the Chevrolet TrailBlazer that provided the clone donor for the Isuzu Ascender.

"It has always been our intention to remain in the U.S. market," the Journal quotes Terry Maloney, president of Isuzu's North American operations. "However, we were unable to secure any commercially viable replacements for these vehicles."

It has inventory to sell for the year ahead, and Isuzu is also promising to honor all warranties and roadside assistance programs.

Isuzu's departure isn't any surprise. But are there other automotive brands that don't serve a purpose? And as new-vehicle sales are expected to take a tumble again in 2008, which companies won't be able to weather the storm? Tell us in a comment below.

Isuzu to End Car Sales In North America in 2009 - WSJ.com
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Comments (20)
  1. No surprise. Let's not forget that they also pulled out of the Japanese market a few years ago. Yes, that's right, Isuzu does not sell any light vehicles in their own country. They only sell light vehicles in the U.S. and developing nations like Thailand.
     
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  2. Who is surprised? Any company relying on GM North America to develop product to fill thier showrooms is destined for failure...Long live Joe Isuzu and the brief period of innovation with the first generation Impulse.
     
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  3. ISUZU hasn't sold home-grown ISUZU's for many years. It has nothing to do with Japanese vehicles. This is more like GM dropping a slow-selling truck brand.

    Subaru will probably be next if they don't get their fuel-efficiency up to snuff.
     
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  4. I believe Mitsubishi is next. I'm not seeing very many of the new generation Eclipse on the roads. The latest Evo is pretty hot, but would anyone really miss the Lancer, the Gallant, or the "me too" Outlander?
     
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  5. I am not shocked at all to hear this. I mean they sell rebadged GM trucks and SUV's that look worse than the GM vehicles they are based on. THe Impulse was a great, fun car, but those days are long gone for Isuzu. As far as who's next, that a tough one, but I would venture that Mercury is on borrowed time with Ford.
     
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  6. Most manufacturers in the US are in decent standing and not willing to leave. The weakest is Mitsu but even it has been able to survive. It's the new commers who will be in a tough spot in the future: Chinese and Indian wannabees. There is no doubt some will make it an strive but there will be a lot of "collectible" pamphlets when all is done...
     
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  7. I tend to agree with you, Cyrus. When you have sales of 15.5 million annually - or lower - it's going to be doubly hard to convince people that Chinese cars are a good bargain, or for them to get traction in the marketplace unless a major brand goes out of business. From the other comments here, Mitsubishi, Mercury and Subaru seem to be out there - I'm going to suggest one that's not so obvious, but I still think Pontiac is in a dangerous spot. If the G8 isn't a big success, it's hard to see GM justifying more investment in a brand that was going to be mostly rear-drive and V-8 cars. With the new CAFE rules coming, the whole brand image for Pontiac seems to be in trouble - and while they have to keep Cadillac going in that vein, I'm not sure GM can afford both car brands plus the big trucks and meet the 35-mpg bogey.
     
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  8. I have to agree that Mitsubishi is very weak - as are Mercury and Pontiac.
    I'd also suggest that Buick and Saab aren't that far behind...
     
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  9. What about Saab? Dont they re-badge Subaru's??
     
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  10. Yes, Saab will be my guess too. Basically any imported brand under GM will not fare well. Look what almost happened to Subaru until GM sold a big chunk. It seems as if Gm does this on purpose sometimes, buy brands, don't invest anything, re-badge their own models and sell it to the brand's loyol customers, then decline any product telling them that they're not profitable. Any manufacturer that's bought by GM loses all their identity and their products become stagnant. GM's-kick them while they're down strategy. As long as their brands have more market share, they could give two shits about "imported brands".
     
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  11. My list is: Mercury, pontiac, mitsubishi, buick and maybe ford if they dont give themselve a kick on ass.
     
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  12. SAAB has been on the brink so long that they're on my short list.

    Yes, craig, they did rebadge the Impreza as the 9-2x for two model years (2005-06), but I, frankly, didn't think that was nearly as boneheaded a move as the Olds Bravada/ Buick Rainier-based 9-7x. Guaranteed that idea came from Flint, not Trollhättan.

    GM's stewardship of SAAB may have saved the company, but their fundamental lack of understanding regarding their customer base will sink the brand...
     
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  13. It is too bad to see Isuzu go. I had a couple of them and were great. At least give them credit by trying to do the best with only a GM rebadge. Like alot of you. I think Mitsubishi is on shaky ground in the USA. Just average products and the dealers are not happy. Plus, I still think they have finance issues at home in Japan as well. The other is SAAB, which has niched itself small. And, they have a rebadged GM Trailblazer/Envoy/Ascender which is going bye bye as well.
     
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  14. A year ago I would have said SAAB, but it looks like GM is finally putting some money into this niche company and there is some promise. The 9-4X will be released next hyear and looks promising. Distinct SAAB design cues on a decent platform and turbo engines. The 9-1X premium compact is coming next year and should debut at Geneva next month. The new (FINALLY!!!) 9-5 is coming soon too. Not to mention the new XWD systems for the 9-3, the limited-edition Turbo X, and the 9-3X (think Volvo Cross Country) coming to dealers soon. I think there might be some hope for SAAB finally. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Perhaps GM is finally listening to what SAAB purists want. The sooner the 9-7x goes away, the better......
     
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  15. Look out here come the Chinese, there cars will probably be sold at Wal Mart at a price that will send several American cars to their graves. Do look for several of the old favorites to disappear and the American companies will cut several of their models in each division. Between our Government and our auto companies messing up the road is looking rough for a good future...
     
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  16. Well, with the way the car market has been going on, the Chinese really do not stand a chance of doing well here in the U.S. The only way that the Chinese will succeed is that they price their cars dirt cheap. As with the other companies mentioned above, its really sad to say but i think the next to go is Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi really had some potential with the new Lancer and the Lancer Ralliart, but it just came too late for the cars to really save the company. The company has some really fun to drive cars, but with the resale value and the reliability of their cars in question, its really has people worried and overlooking them as a potential new car. I think no matter what company you are, unless you are careful it is very easy to fall prey to the current trend of slumps in the market. Good Luck Chrysler and Ford.
     
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  17. Referring back the that comment by Robb, Isuzu benefitted from an early example of GM's not "getting" the import concept, and therefore not making it a priority...

    In the early 70's, They used to import Opel sedans, 2-door wagons and the Corvette-clone-looking GT. Decent quality, good handling, good economy, but they sold them through Buick dealerships. Think of salesmen used to big, flaccid, but comfortable Skylarks, now having to talk-up these thin little euro-sedans. Not a good fit, but it gets worse...

    Around about 1976, all of a sudden, the Corvette-clone with the German design becomes...tada! A homely little 2-door fastback from...Isuzu! They even had the nerve to decal the "Opel GT" on the rear quarter panel of this anonymous little box.

    Give Isuzu it's due, that car was very reliable (I had a 4-door version) but it was an econobox, with a THM250 transmission that never seemed to shift until redline, and that really cheesy plasticy-type interior. It was no Opel, and didn't even come close in appearance or feel. I wonder what Opel did to warrant such an insult, as well as the loss of the US market's closing to them.
     
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  18. That really is to bad about Isuzu; I really liked the Ascender, mosty because it was so rare to see, and after a recent test drive I was planning on geting one. But now I might have to pass. If the dealerships close as a result, will anyone honor the warranties? If so, maybe I can strike a good deal with my local Isuzu dealership.

    It isn'tmuch of a surprise though. They've been circling the drain for years now, and since the US auto market is so saturated with tons of different brands, I'm sure we can all expect a few more companies to join them in the next few years.
     
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  19. Respect...
    GM has no respect for its customers, probably never did.
    Now, the chickens are coming home to roost.
    Twenty years from now, there will be no American auto-makers.
     
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  20. I actually was surprised that it took Isuzu this long to leave the US market. Since the Axiom debuted I've seen less and less Isuzus around. I thought it would drop out after 2005, then I was surprised that they came up with rebadged Colorado and Canyon trucks in 2006. Daewoo though was probably worse since it was onthe US market for only three years. It's probably time to stop Isuzu because their sales will never improve.
     
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