Photo: Isuzu
Isuzu 2020 FTR

Isuzu expects medium-duty rebound in 2021

March 11, 2021
Isuzu offered optimism for its medium-duty trucks' future, as well as the overall segment, at the 2021 Work Truck Show.

Considering how the COVID-19 pandemic massively disrupted the global economy since the previous Work Truck Show, the sales performance of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America (ICTA) was “actually pretty darn good,” stated Shaun Skinner, president of both ICTA and Isuzu Commercial Truck of Canada, during the virtual 2021 Work Truck Show.

Overall, the medium-duty truck maker saw sales dip 14% from 2019 to 2020, though Skinner pointed that adjusted number is 11%, as the company stopped delivering Isuzu Reach step-in vans in 2019. Parts sales were only off 3%.

“When you look at the economic troubles that we had in 2020 and the health issues that everybody was confronted with, that our sales held up as well as they did is really a testament to our dealers’ dedication and our strength in the marketplace,” Skinner said.

He noted Class 3 through 5 overall maintained a strong presence in 2020, and in Isuzu’s competitive segment (which removes shuttle buses, motor homes and emergency vehicles, among others), with registration data off 5% in 2020 from 2019 (November).

Because of Class 6 and 7’s severe 30% decline y/y, the medium-duty segment overall fell 17%.

Medium duty, as well as all of trucking, should see better sales in the next few years. Skinner said economic models, such as from IHS Markit, predicted 4% to 6.5% U.S. GDP growth in 2021, with long-term growth expected through 2027.

Isuzu’s sales are expected to reflect this economic uptick, with the N-Series Diesel models growing by 17%, the N-Series Gas by 18%, and the F-Series by a monumental 81%.

That jump is powered by Isuzu adding the Cummins B 6.7 diesel engine to the F-Series for the 2022MY. Skinner reported Isuzu has a 2% market share of Class 6 and 7.

“We are not a major player in this part of the market right now, but we think that's going to be changing,” said Skinner of the Cummins-Isuzu collaboration, consummated through the Isuzu Cummins Powertrain Partnership. The partnership will allow Isuzu to roll out the B 6.7 engine in Japan, South East Asia, and other areas and share advanced technology with Cummins.

“We will accelerate holistic collaboration in joint research for advanced engineering capabilities and further developments in advanced diesel technologies to deliver optimum trucks and powertrains to customers all over the world,” said Masanori Katayama, president and representative director, Isuzu Motors Limited, at the time of the announcement last month.

ICTA’s other focus is staying as market leader in the low cab forward (LCF) segment of Class 3-5 (where Ford is overall leader). General Motors retains the second spot in the LCF sector, while Hino has dropped production and Fuso is leaving the North American market.

Product refreshes

Isuzu also reiterated additions to its 2022 offerings. The Class 5 N-Series Gas, made available in February 2021, features a PSI 6L engine with a 311 hp. and 351 lb.-ft. of torque from an Allison 1000 transmission (with PTO).

The 2022 N-Series Diesel will be available with an advanced emergency braking system and lane departure warning as options. If this Advanced Driver Assist Package is selected, Mobileye ADAS will not be available. Electronic vehicle stability control comes standard. The N-Series Diesel also receives new LED headlights and 4-wheel disc brakes, along with grille and interior refreshes. Aluminum 35- or 55-gallon side-mounted fuel tanks are also optional add-ons at the factory.

Along with the Cummins engine, the F-Series will also add new LED headlights, more “aggressive” grille, and improved interior. The air dryer was relocated to inside the frame rail and reservoir to the cross-member to increase space.

About the Author

John Hitch | Editor

John Hitch, based out of Cleveland, Ohio, is the editor of Fleet Maintenance, a B2B magazine that addresses the service needs for all commercial vehicle makes and models (Classes 1-8), ranging from shop management strategies to the latest tools to enhance uptime.

He previously wrote about equipment and fleet operations and management for FleetOwner, and prior to that, manufacturing and advanced technology for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest. He is an award-winning journalist and former sonar technician aboard a nuclear-powered submarine.

For tips, questions or comments, email [email protected].

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