As one of the oldest companies in the Japanese automotive industry, Isuzu traces its beginnings to 1916, the year Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. and Tokyo Gas and Electric Industrial Co. initiated plans for automobile production. In 1922, Japan's first domestically produced truck, a Wolseley model A-9, was completed. In 1934, after meeting Ministry of Trade and Industry standards, vehicles were renamed 'Isuzu' after the Isuzu River in the Ise Shrine area. This is the origin of the company name, which was changed to today's 'Isuzu Motors Limited' in 1949.
After World War II, development and production of trucks occurred at a feverish pace.
Isuzu trucks were needed to carry all kinds of products and foodstuffs, and they played a major role in reconstruction after the war. Isuzu's passion for trucks is firmly rooted in this period. Since that time, an endless variety of models from light-duty to heavy-duty trucks and buses have rolled off the Isuzu production lines, with each vehicle being put to hard use in support of economic growth.
Launched in 1959, the N-Series was fitted with a diesel engine the following year, a first for light-duty trucks in Japan. Isuzu has always led the way in light-duty trucks, introducing the Flat Low model in 1974, Wide Cab in 1980 and front independent suspension in 1990. The new ELF KR, introduced in 2002, was the first to pass Japan's new 2003 short-term emission standards, raising its reputation still further.
The medium-duty F-Series was launched in 1970. In 1998, a bedless model, FORWARD V, was added, and the following year FORWARDMAX made its debut. In 2002, the highly efficient Smoother-F transmission became available for the series.
1995 saw the introduction of C&E Series heavy-duty trucks and tractors. The GIGAMAX, launched in 1997, featured Japan's first 4-bag air suspension. GIGA tractors received Smoother-G transmissions in 2001, increasing their competitive edge.
The large-size tour bus GALA was introduced in 1996, followed by the mid-size buses GALA mio and ERGA mio in 1999. ERGA, a large route/private-use bus, was launched in 2000.
History of passenger vehicles
Isuzu has also been at the forefront of automotive engineering as a passenger vehicle manufacturer. Starting with the first Hillman passenger car in 1953, Isuzu introduced Bellel in 1961 and Bellett in 1963. 'Bellett GT' met with popular acclaim and was affectionately known by its nickname, 'Bele GT' In 1968, the Giugiaro-designed 117 Coupe reached the market. The Gemini, a vehicle jointly developed with GM, was introduced in 1974, followed in 1981 by another Giugiaro design, the Piazza, and a compact 4WD vehicle, the Rodeo Bighorn. In 1985, Isuzu introduced FF Gemini, and its television commercial featuring daredevil stunt-driving was higly reputated. Isuzu's distinctive passenger cars and sport-utility vehicles continue to have a loyal following of fans.
History of advancement overseas
In 1971, Isuzu reached agreement on affiliation with General Motors. This marks the beginning of Isuzu's full-scale overseas strategy, and by 1972 the company was exporting KB pickups to the United States. In another partnership with GM, Isuzu unveiled the Gemini in 1974 as part of the first 'world car' plan. In the intervening 30 years, Isuzu has been diligent in setting up bases in Thailand, North America and China, nurturing many friendships over the years and creating a firm foundation for today's overseas strategy.