Known in most of Europe, Asia, and Africa for producing a wide variety of trucks, Isuzu Motors, Ltd, is a Japanese car manufacturer headquartered in Tokyo. In 2005, they were the world's largest producer of medium to heavy duty trucks. With plants in Fujisawa, Tochigi and Hokkaido, Isuzu is famous for commercial vehicles and diesel engines, having built 16 million of the latter just in 2003.
Although Isuzu did build it's first Japanese car in 1922, the company has specialized in trucks since 1918. In 1935 it built a prototype bus for the Japanese market, that included innovations such as air brakes, and the engine being under the floor. Research and development continued, as did many mergers and re-acquisitions, and in 1949, the Isuzu we know today was born, named after a river that flows past a Japanese shrine. By this time the company was already a major manufacturer of heavy duty trucks.
Over the next thirty years, Isuzu continued to grow and develop its business. Their diesel engines and diesel-powered snow tractors, among other equipment, were sent to Japan's Antarctic Observation base, in 1955 along with some Isuzu personnel, and the equipment has remained operational since then. Four years later, the world's first two-ton light-duty forward-control truck was built. The cab-over vehicle has remained one of Japan's most enduring models.
In the 1970's, Isuzu formed a joint development and marketing agreement with General Motors Corporation, and as a result the Buick Opel and Chevrolet LUV became the first Isuzu-built vehicles to be sold in America. A decade later, Isuzu would open its first American showrooms under the name American Isuzu Motors, Inc, and would spend a year introducing the brand and building a dealer network.
The 1990's saw Isuzu come into it's own here in the US, selling its one millionth unit, and becoming the only import manufacturer to offer vehicles in all three classes of SUV: mini, compact, and full. Today, Isuzu has a contract with Budget Truck Rental to manufacture their rental trucks, shared with Ford, GMC, and Navistar International, and offers individual consumers their choice of a 5- or 7-passenger Ascender SUV, or the i-370 or i-290 pickup trucks, available at one of their 300 dealers nationwide.