After stunning the Australian truck media about four years ago, by announcing it was developing an electrically driven truck locally with Australian start up SEA Electric, Isuzu has confirmed it is no longer involved with the Dandening based company and that the company’s parent in Japan was working on a number of zero emission options for the future.
While refusing to be drawn on timelines and when Australia high see an electric Isuzu, the company’s strategy manager, Grant Cooper told the Australian truck trade press that it has a range of options particularly with the previously announced cooperation with Toyota and its truck arm Hino, which will potentially see. a range of electric drivelines being developed.
Cooper also intimated that there is a potential for hydrogen fuel cell technology coming Isuzu’s way from another Japanese automotive company in Honda.
Cooper told the gathered media in the virtual launch of the company’s updated N Series that its EV strategy was a key part of the broader strategy to bring zero emission and other new technology to the market in the years ahead.
The Isuzu strategy manager showed photos of Isuzu’s Elf walk through EV light duty delivery truck, a mock up of which has been on the Isuzu stand t the last two Tokyo Motor Shows.
All of the Japanese truck brands are scrambling to deliver EV trucks to satisfy the demands of large retail and on line delivery operators, like Woolworths, Coles, Australia Post and Toll. This was what led both Isuzu and later Hino locally, to forge ties with SEA Electric, the former having now dissolved its relationship with the start up and Hino tendering an agreement to supply roller chassis for conversion to electric here and with a similar deal in the USA.
Toyota announced earlier this year that it spent about $US394 million to acquire a 4.6 per cent stake in Isuzu, just three years after the two domestic automakers ended a previous capital tie-up. The reinvestment is part of a partnership that also involves Hino, Isuzu also bought Toyota shares worth an equivalent amount as part of the transaction.
The companies are billed the partnership as a way to combine Isuzu and Hino’s strengths in commercial vehicles with what Toyota called its CASE technologies — standing for connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles.
The companies announced they they had established a new entity in April to work on developing small commercial trucks powered by both batteries and fuel cells.
Toyota invested in Isuzu back in 2006 to work together to develop diesel engines, but the two companies severed capital ties in 2018. The companies said at the time that they remained open to the possibility of future collaboration.
Previously “there was a mismatch, but we have talked frankly this time,” said Isuzu CEO Masanori Katayama.
“After dissolving the capital relationship [in 2018], we started talking about electric vehicles and electrification,” Toyoda added.
The complex tie ups between leading auto companies will continue as the technologies and complex demands for green and zero emission drivetrains put increasing pressure on company balance sheets.