24 October 2017

Isuzu USA Production History : 1989-2008

The Isuzu Rodeo

You may not have known that Isuzu vehicles were once made in the US, but they were. It was an unusual situation that ended up not being sustainable. The article here only covers light commercials, not some heavier ones that were also made Stateside. It also only covers what was made in the US, not imported vehicles.

The seeds were sown when GM took a third shareholding in Isuzu in the early 1970's. Initially vehicles were sent from Japan and sold under GM nameplates, but in 1981 Isuzu introduced its own brand to the US. Then it got in to local manufacturing. It was too small in sales to go it alone so needed a collaboration. Here's a summary of what happened.

Pickups: Isuzu joined with Subaru in the Lafayette, Indiana plant (SIA) in 1989 producing the P'up small pickup.  The P'up ended its run at the plant in 1994, but US pickup production continued in 1996 as the Hombre, a Chevrolet light truck (S-10) made by GM for Isuzu. That ran until the year 2000. By 2005, Isuzu turned to GM again for a pickup, this time for the i-series mid sized truck (Chevy Colorado). That lasted until 2008.

SUVs: In 1990, the Rodeo SUV was also assembled at the SIA plant. In 2001, the Axiom mid sized SUV was also made at the facility with both of them ending their run in 2004. In 2002 the GM provided the Ascender mid sized SUV (Chevy TrailBlazer) which continued to 2008.

The gradual ending: Isuzu's joint sharing of the SIA plant lasted until 2002, when Isuzu sold its share of the facility to Subaru. That same year, Isuzu left Canada where its vehicles were mainly sold through Saturn-Saab dealerships. When the Rodeo and Axiom models ended in 2004, sales for Isuzu in the US declined quickly. By 2008, it was all over when Isuzu decided to leave the US altogether.

Summary: Isuzu never had a strong passenger car lineup and relying on a limited SUV and pick-up range was never going to be enough. Being a fringe player can work in other markets but not in the US.

PS. Putting this article together wasn't easy and I looked to many sources for information, not all of which were in agreement. If anyone can add anything to or refine what I have presented, please let me know.

Year Light Trucks Annual US Est
Model Pick Up Ascendr Rodeo Axiom Unsure Prod Sales
1989 2,450 - - - - 2,450 128,000
1990
-
- 34,500 34,500 122,000
1991
-
- 58,400 58,400 117,400
1992 24,900 - 45,200 - - 70,100 115,600
1993 21,500 - 55,400 - - 76,900 123,900
1994 3,350 - 60,900 - - 64,250 128,800
1995 100 - 66,700 - - 66,800 113,300
1996 16,800 - 67,000 - - 83,800 99,100
1997 14,800 - 59,300 - - 74,100 97,800
1998 16,600 - 86,600 - - 103,200 108,500
1999 6,600 - 76,000 - - 82,600 103,400
2000 - - 79,500 - - 79,500 98,100
2001 - - 56,800 11,700 - 68,500 82,400
2002 - 1,900 21,700 7,000 - 30,600 53,000
2003 - 4,000 20,300 5,000 - 29,300 30,300
2004 - 11,700 11,300 1,900 - 24,900 27,600
2005 3,200 6,200 - - - 9,400 12,200
2006 4,000 2,400 - - - 6,400 8,600
2007 4,000 2,500 - - - 6,500 7,100
2008 700 300 - - - 1,000 4,800
Total 119,000 29,000 706,700 25,600 92,900 973,200 1,568,900
Average 9,917 4,833 54,362 6,400 - 51,221 78,445

21 October 2017

Mitsubishi USA Production History : 1989-2016

The Mitsubishi Eclipse sports car

Like Subaru, Mitsubishi entered car manufacturing in the US in 1989, and likewise did it making cars for someone else as well to get sufficient volume. In Mitsubishi's case, it was with Chrysler US, a company that it had financial links with.

Going back a few years, in the early 1980's Mitsubishi commenced selling cars in the US under its brand name. Then both Mitsubishi and Chrysler agreed to form a 50/50 joint venture to manufacture cars in the US, to get around import limits on Japanese cars. Initially the Mitsubishi Eclipse sports car was made at the plant at Normal, Illinois along with two rebadged Chrysler models of the same car.

A brief run of the Mirage was soon switched to the Galant, which provided better volumes. With Chrysler production - averaging over 60,000 units p.a. from 1989 to 1999 - along with Mitsubishi cars had the plant fairly well utilised.

However, in the 2000's, Chrysler production was falling at the joint venture plant and was ended by 2004. This coincided with a fall in Mitsubishi production, despite the introduction of the Endeavor SUV which wasn't very successful. The Raider pick-up was made for Mitsubishi so wasn't produced at the Normal plant, not that its paltry numbers would have helped.

In recent times, car production was phased out and the Outlander SUV did quite well when it replaced the under performing Endeavor in 2012. Despite that, it was decided to end production in 2015. Unless the Normal plant was to be used for large scale exporting, the maths didn't add up in making cars for local consumption.

The reason Subaru was able to go it alone while Mitsubishi wasn't is down to domestic popularity. In 2016 Subaru sold 615,000 vehicles in the US, to Mitsubishi's 96,000.  It was therefore the right decision, that brought to an end 27 years of production in the US.


Year Passenger cars Light Trucks Annual

Model Galant Eclipse Mirage Outl/End Raider Prod

1989 - 40,900 - - - 40,900

1990 - 58,500 5,400 - - 63,900

1991 - 57,900 24,200 - - 82,100

1992 - 72,400 10,100 - - 82,500

1993 42,900 54,700 - - - 97,600

1994 65,000 57,000 - - - 122,000

1995 55,500 60,700 - - - 116,200

1996 57,000 65,100 - - - 122,100

1997 42,800 67,600 - - - 110,400

1998 45,900 50,700 - - - 96,600

1999 65,000 54,000 - - - 119,000

2000 104,100 79,000 - - - 183,100

2001 94,600 70,500 - - - 165,100

2002 99,900 74,800 - - - 174,700

2003 59,600 39,300 - 47,500 - 146,400

2004 45,300 11,200 - 21,800 - 78,300

2005 34,900 28,200 - 22,700 9,600 95,400

2006 35,400 39,400 - 17,700 4,500 97,000

2007 32,400 30,400 - 15,900 3,800 82,500

2008 38,500 16,000 - 4,500 4,500 63,500

2009 12,100 2,700 - 3,700 - 18,500

2010 16,600 6,400 - 6,400 - 29,400

2011 20,200 6,400 - 10,600 - 37,200

2012 13,700 - - 23,300 - 37,000

2013 - - - 67,400 - 67,400

2014 - - - 69,200 - 69,200

2015 - - - 50,200 - 50,200

2016 - - - - - 0

Total 981,400 1,043,800 39,700 360,900 22,400 2,448,200

Average 49,070 45,383 13,233 27,762 5,600 90,674