Isuzu can trace its ancestry back to 1893 and the establishment of the Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Company. As the name suggests this was a heavy engineering company. In 1922, under a joint venture agreement with British auto manufacturer, Wolseley Motor Ltd., the company began production of the Wolseley A9 passenger car. Over the next eight decades Isuzu experienced a steady rise in prominence to become Japan’s best-selling truck manufacturer and a major innovative force in the global automotive industry.
The Isuzu name first appeared in 1934 on a mass produced product range. The name comes from the Isuzu river that runs close to Japan’s oldest religious shrine, the Isa Shrine, in Mie prefecture. The name Isuzu Motors was adopted in 1949.
Over the many decades of its existence Isuzu has accrued a wealth of experience in automotive research and development. Today Isuzu enjoys a position as an established world-class manufacturer of light and heavy commercial vehicles and pick-ups. The company uses advanced technology to deliver real-world benefits to the international vehicle market. Every Isuzu is designed and built with a focus on functionality and durability.
Isuzu vehicles maintain number-one status in numerous important global markets, including North America, China, the Middle East, and ASEAN nations. In these markets reliability, durability, and overall fuel and operating efficiency are the keys to Isuzu’s success in these highly competitive commercial vehicle markets. This success is reflected in the solid reputation of Isuzu vehicles in the ultra-competitive South African commercial vehicle market.
In 1971 Isuzu entered into a capital alliance with general Motors. This alliance has grown to include co-operation in all phases of operation to leverage each company’s business resources.
In a landmark development in 1997 General Motors and Isuzu reached an agreement that made the main development of diesel engine technology within the General Motors organisation the responsibility of Isuzu. Class leading diesel engine technology has secured a position for Isuzu as GM’s global diesel engine design partner for both passenger and commercial vehicle applications.
The partnership between General Motors and Isuzu was strengthened further in 1998 when Isuzu was given the responsibility of commercial vehicle engineering within the GM organisation.
Out of this came the latest generation Isuzu KB, a clean sheet design aimed at widening the global appeal for this popular 1 tonner. International acceptance has been both extremely high and wide ranging in both traditional and new markets.
In South Africa this latest generation Isuzu KB has been instrumental in lifting sales to a point that the KB is firmly established as one of the most popular vehicles of its type, challenging for market leadership and in some months topping the sales charts as the most popular one-tonner in South Africa.