GM puts Isuzu back on the menu

It seems the more things change the more they stay the same! According to the Wall St Journal General Motors is set to re-ignite its relationship with Isuzu trucks almost a decade after it divested its shares in the company. The new tie-up will allow GM to re-enter the growing and potentially lucrative U.S. market for medium-duty trucks, an area it abandoned during one of its restructures last decade.

The US auto giant will again team up with the company it once owned a major shareholding in, to source medium duty trucks which will be sold in the North American market under the Chevrolet brand.

While Isuzu will build the vehicles, GM will rely on its Chevy truck dealer network and its reputation as a truck company to lay claim to a medium-duty market that has grown 3.5 per cent in 2015.

GM will begin taking the Isuzu N-series and putting a Chevrolet brand on it soon, according to dealers briefed on the plan. The Wall Street Journal says GM will unveil the partnership next Monday 23 June in a move it says is likely to be well-received by a U.S. dealer body clamoring for more work trucks to sell amid stronger economic conditions.

The contract-manufacturing relationship with Isuzu isn’t atypical for an auto industry looking to share the cost of developing new products. GM, for instance, also purchases work vans from Nissan and rebrands them as Chevys to sell in the U.S.

GM will supply one petrol engine, 6.0L V-8 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission, as well as Isuzu-sourced 3.0L and 5.2L turbo-diesel engines, according to a source familiar with the production strategy.

GM exited this segment in 2009, terminating a partnership with Isuzu amid financial difficulties.

Six models will be offered in 2016: the Chevrolet 3500; 3500HD; 4500; 4500HD; 5500; and 5500HD. They’re all based on the N-Series.

“Bringing low cab forward trucks back to our portfolio strengthens Chevrolet’s commitment to providing commercial customers with more choices and provides customers with a versatile lineup of trucks, vans and crossovers,” said Ed Peper, US vice-president of GM fleet and commercial sales. “This addition helps our dealers satisfy their commercial customers’ needs all in one place.”

The trucks will be offered in regular cab and crew cab body styles.

These, along with the Isuzu-badged versions, will be the only low cab forward trucks available in North America with a gasoline engine.

According to the companies, the trucks will offer: excellent visibility and maneuverability; easy driver entry and exit; chassis lengths from 109- to 212-inches; compatibility with a wide range of body types; and an easy access engine compartment with 45-degree tilting cab.

Financial terms of GM’s agreement with Isuzu aren’t immediately known.