One of the enduring brands in SA, today Isuzu Motors announced the official launch of its business operations in South Africa. This follows the announcement of last year where Isuzu had said that it would purchase the light commercial vehicle operations in Port Elizabeth and also the balance of shareholding in its Isuzu Trucks South Africa operations.
Speaking at the event which was held at manufacturing plant in Struandale Port Elizabeth, the President and Representative Director of Isuzu Motors of Japan Masanori Katayama said that Isuzu was committed to growing its business in South Africa. “This is the first commercial and light commercial vehicle manufacturing operation outside of Japan in which we have acquired a 100% ownership. We are represented in 30 countries outside of Japan and successfully operate 47 manufacturing plants in these countries with joint venture partners.”
Isuzu is making positive strides in Africa and a year ago the company acquired a 57.7% majority shareholding in the Kenyan truck and bus assembly operation which supplies Isuzu vehicles to East African markets, while commanding a leading 34% share of the Kenyan new vehicle market.
Isuzu also has a 20% shareholding in joint venture manufacturing operations in Egypt, and where the company has led in the market for 10 years in a row. The light commercial vehicle pick-up which is produced there and accounts for over 90% share of the market segment, is derived off the Isuzu KB pick-up.
Also speaking at the launch event, Isuzu Motors South Africa CEO and MD Michael Sacke said that the company’s initial focus would be to fully consolidate its operations while laying the foundation for the company’s future success. “Our short-term focus is on implementing our transitional plans, ensuring the sustainability of our operations, further strengthening our product portfolio and relocating the truck operations from Kempston Road to the Struandale plant. As we do this, we will need to demonstrate excellence in everything we do and the ability to lead in key segments of the market.”
He said that in the medium term the company would need to plan for the successful launch of future products, implement measures to increase its domestic market share and increase its exports into Sub-Saharan Africa markets.
Sacke said that the company was already making good progress in achieving these objectives and that last year Isuzu trucks accounted for around 15% share of the medium and heavy commercial market, thus cementing its leadership position in these segments of the market for over five years in a row .
Masanori Katayama commended the South African employees, dealers, suppliers, government, customers and other key stakeholders for their tremendous support in ensuring the successful launch of Isuzu Motors South Africa. “Your efforts have been exceptional and give us confidence that this will become a flagship operation for Isuzu Motors.”
Isuzu Motors sells vehicles in over 120 markets and has a leading share in many of the segments in which it competes in 42 of these markets.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, said that South Africa’s automotive industry is a global, turbo-charged engine for the manufacture and export of vehicles and components. He said many of the major multinational firms use South Africa to source components and assemble vehicles for the local and international markets.
They also announced the imminent launch of a mid-size SUV, the M-UX that bears an uncanny resemblance to the recently departed GM product, the Trailblazer.
The mu-X will be a new entry in the SUV segment for Isuzu, since the introduction of the Trooper and Frontier in 1992 and 1998, says Dominic Rimmer, Executive Technical Services. “This great product, which has been favourable with customers around the world, will extend the Isuzu product range offering customers an option to choose between the rugged and capable Isuzu pick-up and a sophisticated Isuzu SUV for both work and leisure, ensuring they are catered for in the Isuzu family.”
The Isuzu mu-X, Isuzu’s refined yet robust SUV, has a long proud history of performance behind it with its first introduction to market in Thailand in 2013. The mu-X is currently sold in several countries which include Thailand, Australia and Philippines where it holds the market leader share.
This superior SUV will assume Isuzu’s rich DNA backed by decades of experience in diesel engine technology. The mu-X is powered by Isuzu’s proven 3-litre engine packed with active safety features. The car-like handling with exceptional ride comfort is supported by a 5-link rear suspension. In addition, the seven seat configurations with ample passenger legroom promise a comfortable ride for the family whether on road or off the beaten track.
The Isuzu mu-X model line-up, specification and pricing will be announced closer to the time of launch.