In the very early '80s, yours truly was dispatched to Vegas (back when the town still seemed to have a Rat Packer or two floating around) for a very razz-ma-tazz roll-out of Isuzu commercial trucks in the U.S.
Now the thing is I can't recall whether the work trucks or the cars, pickups and SUVs (sold by a separate division) got here first but what I remember the best about the truck intro was a very slick video Isuzu ran. It emphasized the firm's long and fabled automotive history and that the company name was correctly pronounced "Eee-zoo-sue," NOT "Eye-zoo-sue," which seems to be what many truckers prefer.
Well, you say "Isuzu" and I say "Isuzu," but it doesn't change the news the Japanese automaker has announced it is pulling out of the U.S. consumer market, as revealed on autoblog.com.
However, the OEM did state it is not-- I repeat, not-- leaving the commercial end of the market.
"Isuzu Motors Limited has decided to end its North American SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) new vehicle sales business as of January 31. 2009," according to the press release posted on autoblog.com. "With this decision to end SUV operations, Isuzu's North American business will focus on the CV [commercial vehicle] and PT [diesel engines and components] businesses."
Of course, Isuzu has built an enviable reputation as a truck supplier here in the states and benefited from a long-term relationship with General Motors that was reconfigured last year.
As a result, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc. (ICTA) is now distributing its low-cab-forward vehicles directly to both the Isuzu dealer network and GM's network of Chevrolet and GMC medium-duty dealers.
Clearly, trucks are where the bucks are. But anyone who remembers any of the rather nifty cars Isuzu peddled here back in the day-- the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Impulse leaps to mind-- not to mention the no-nonsense Trooper SUV-- may again enjoy hearing a message from their very twisted U.S. pitchman, good old Joe Isuzu: