Yes, Isuzu is still around...or was, anyway. Just shy of 30 years after entering the U.S. market as a unique brand, Isuzu has pulled the plug on its non-commercial vehicle line in the U.S., effective January 31, 2009. The automaker's commercial truck business and diesel engine business will not be affected.
The company first made the announcement last January when it became clear that the GM truck and SUV that Isuzu's only two models were based on would die soon and that replacements would not be available for Isuzu. The company only sold 7,098 of the vehicles in 2007 and its withdrawal from the U.S. market has been predicted for some time. Isuzu says that it will continue to support current and future owners with parts and service, honor warranties and that its commercial truck and diesel engine businesses in the U.S. will not be affected by the closure of its passenger vehicle business. The withdrawal is reported to cost Isuzu in the neighborhood of $37 million.
Officially founded in 1937, the Japanese automaker is best known for its commercial trucks and diesel engines. It partnered with GM in the early 1970s and began producing small cars and trucks that were rebadged as GM products for sale in the U.S. In the early 1980s, Isuzu came to the U.S. as its own brand, though it continued to work closely with GM and as a result, the two companies shared many platforms and models. After sales peaked in the mid-90s, Isuzu's non-commercial cars and trucks have fallen into a downward spiral in the U.S. market, to the point where the only vehicles in its line-up today are the Ascender SUV (Chevrolet Trailblazer/GMC Envoy XL) and i-290/i-370 small truck (Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon).