Isuzu Motors has reportedly bought land for a US truck plant in Alabama, pushing ahead with plans to re-establish a production base in the world’s biggest vehicle market.
According to Reuters, Isuzu said in December it wanted to build a plant in North America, adding that a local factory would be appropriate when U.S. truck sales reached 50,000 units a year. It is looking at building 2-3 ton trucks, adding to Isuzu’s sole offering of 3.5 ton N-series trucks in the United States, a source has told the news agency.
The truck maker reportedly declined to provide details on plans for the factory but a source told Reuters the plant was scheduled to come on line around 2010 and initial annual production capacity would be several thousand units.
After years of restructuring, Isuzu is pinning its hopes on increasing truck sales in the United States, hoping to offset stagnating domestic demand, Reuters noted.
Fuji carried on making Subaru models for both the US and export at the plant and, last year, Toyota, which has an 8.7% stake in Fuji, said it would start making Camrys there following a $US230m investment.
Reuters said Isuzu sold some 28,000 units in the US in 2006. It sub-contracts production of the petrol version of the N-series to former top shareholder General Motors, according to the news agency.
Isuzu spokesman Koitsu Mabuchi told Reuters the land cost $7.8m.
US motor industry website AutoObserver.com said the land previously was occupied by a Del Monte Foods warehouse.
Its report added that, last year, Toyota bought a 5.9% stake in Isuzu, best known for its diesel technology that Toyota is eager to gain, after GM had earlier sold its entire 7.9% stake in Isuzu. GM uses Isuzu’s diesel technology in its Duramax-powered pickup trucks, AutoObserver.com said.
In the US light vehicle market, Isuzu currently sells only Ascender badged versions of GM’s Chevrolet TrailBlazer/GMC Envoy SUVs and the i- series pickup truck line, which are rebadged Chevy Colorado models.