TRUCK TRACKS

The thoroughbreds are globetrotting

Trucks Article April 03, 2001
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Anyone with doubt about how far the "globalization" of the truck business would go probably got the answer when General Motors

Anyone with doubt about how far the "globalization" of the truck business would go probably got the answer when General Motors announced an arm of an overseas company now has majority control of its medium-truck sales. Isuzu, GM’s partner company in Japan, is now the 51% owner of a joint venture named General Motors Isuzu Commercial Truck LLC (GMICT). Isuzu and GM medium-duty commercial vehicle sales, service and marketing functions in the U.S. will be directed from the Cerritos, Calif., headquarters of the Isuzu unit American Isuzu Motors Inc. (AIMI).


The joint venture will have a business center in Pontiac, Mich., the former home of GM’s truck operation, and have regional offices around the nation.


GMICT will be managed by five directors, two from Isuzu, two from GM and James C. Underwood, president and COO. Underwood has worked for GMC and IVECO, founded a new car dealership and was named vice president, commercial vehicle sales of AIMI in 1995.


"Chevrolet, GMC and Isuzu brands (of the joint-venture partners) will remain intact and advertising and sales promotion will be developed and implemented jointly," an announcement said.


Isuzu’s strengths were listed as "expertise in the commercial vehicle market, its flexible and responsive organization and strong retail marketing approach."


The venture also was said to be in line to benefit from GM’s "strong product portfolio and strong brand management system."


More than 750 dealerships will serve the new company. In 1999, those outlets sold a total of about 55,000 medium-duty (Class 3-7 ) trucks.


Cooperation between Isuzu and GM was traced back to 1971. An earlier GM venture with a foreign truck maker was the Volvo-GM cooperation which was active in the ’60s. In that one, Volvo sold the heavy trucks and, for the record, GM said its lines topped out with medium-duty trucks.


GM-Isuzu ventures have increased over the last few years. Isuzu was credited with playing a major role in developing the newest models of the strongest trucks in the Chevrolet and GMC lines.


Upcoming in 2001 is another expansion of the cooperation in which Isuzu (diesel engines) and GM’s Allison Division (automatic transmissions) will move the joint efforts into a new area at the high end of the light-duty field, supplying power train components.


Truck people find it difficult to overlook Isuzu’s ranking among the leaders in diesel technology and as one of the largest manufacturers of diesel engines, both considerable credentials in the truck arena.


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