Isuzu and GM's interesting history
Before I get too far off into the past it's probably worth mentioning that Isuzu and General Motors are at it again! As of September 2014 the companies have announced that they intend to collaborate on yet another project - specifically for commercial vehicle development that will have Isuzu produce a low cab forward model for GM based on their existing N-Series. The vehicle will then be launched and distributed by participating Chevrolet dealerships in the American market beginning in 2016.
The intention here is to combine Isuzu's truck with GM's 6.0-litre V-8 engine along with a six-speed transmission to make for an efficient, gas-powered low cab forward truck. This vehicle is expected to fill an ever-evolving and innovative automotive landscape in the Class 4 and Class 5 commercial-duty segment.
Isuzu and GM's partnership begins over 4 decades ago, and that's where we'll be heading to explore the interesting concepts and creations that previously brought these industry-leaders together.
One of the oldest automakers from Japan, Isuzu is celebrating its centennial this year with recognition that their first foray into vehicle production came in 1922.
For GM, collaboration with Isuzu came in 1971, a period that is also referenced as being the true beginnings of a large-scale overseas marketing and distribution strategy (this, despite the fact that Isuzu vehicles were exporting since 1949). This was largely done following the acquisition by General Motors of 34.2% interest in Isuzu - costing $56 million dollars at the time. This allowed for the agreement to be kept consistently at that level for 5 years and had four member of GM on the Isuzu board.
By 1972, the collaboration brought KB trucks to the U.S. and would be followed-up by a number of agreements and partnerships.
Included in the agreement terms, Isuzu was to produce 2 vehicles for General Motors to sell in the United States - opening up the market in ways that would not have been attainable or affordable previously. That same year, Isuzu's one-ton truck was remarketed as the Chevy Luv and sold 100,000 units by the end of the fourth quarter of 1972. This, alone, doubled Isuzu's export product volume.
Similar efforts introduced the Spectrum - a vehicle that, at the time, cost $200 million to develop - sales were decent with nearly forty percent of Isuzu's production volume accounted for.
Perhaps the most notable contribution and success between the two companies to date is the design, development, and production of the DMAX engine line. Manufactured for diesel trucks, it was initially announced as a joint venture between General Motors and Isuzu with the results proving to be a great boon for GM - specifically in the form of the Duramax V8 engine - which includes the Circle L engine, 3.0-litre V6 and 6.6-litre V8 engine models.
With the announcement of yet another collaboration, it's clear that both companies have greatly benefitted from their efforts - it will certainly be interesting to see how well the new truck is received in the market!