UK Isuzu importer, Birmingham-based International Motors, wants to expand its dealer network rapidly from 80 to 140.

The reason is the imminent launch of the new Rodeo pickup range on sale from November.

UK marketing director for Subaru and Isuzu, Jon Nealon, said that, although Isuzu will remain a one-model range in the UK, the interest expressed by current non-Subaru and Isuzu franchises to take on the Rodeo range had been significant.

"In addition to the existing 80 Isuzu dealers we have now, we have around 50 strong prospects including interest from Rover, Audi, Seat, VW and other dealers who currently do not have a pick-up range to sell.  We have even been approached by two or three of the largest grey importers who want to take on sales of approved UK models," said Nealon.

"We have reduced the entry costs for dealers to take on the franchise. It costs under £10,000 now to set up copared with the £20-£30,000 costs when the Trooper [SUV] was available. We expect new dealers to have Isuzu exterior signage, a degree of separation within their existing showroom, one demonstration vehicle, another for display and their staff must undertake sales and technical training".

The growth in pick up sales in the UK, fuelled by demand for double-cab models, has reached an all-time high. In the first nine months of this year sales were 21,455 units, up from 15,750 in the same period last year. Isuzu expect to initially gain over 10% of that market, or around 3,500 units, in their first year with the redesigned range.

International Motors was happy to sell the Isuzu TF pick up range, best known in the UK as the re-badged GM Vauxhall Brava line, last year as a short-term move until the new Rodeo range came on stream, said Nealon.

This is the fifth generation of Isuzu pick-ups, which are also sold as Holdens in Australia and New Zealand and shared some initial development with the Chevrolet Colorado models recently launched in the USA. They are built in Thailand where they have already captured 43% market share.