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.