Isuzu Truck’s 50 years Down Under
In 2022, Isuzu Trucks celebrated 50 years of operation in Australia. Of those 50 years of successful business, Isuzu can also lay claim to no less than 33 consecutive years of market leadership, in one of the most competitive truck markets in the world.
Isuzu’s history started in 1916 when Tokyo Ishikawa Jima Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Limited and Tokyo Gas & Engineering Company collaborated to research vehicle development. Isuzu Motors Limited was then formed as a global automotive company in 1937, with its headquarters in Tokyo.
The company specialises in the manufacture of commercial vehicles and diesel engines. Isuzu is the world’s largest producer of diesel engines and had, in 2022, sold more than 85 million units.
Isuzu trucks were initially introduced to Australia by General Motors Holden (GMH) in 1972 and marketed as ‘Bedford by Isuzu’. The product was initially retailed via GMH’s traditional and successful Bedford truck dealer network. The Bedford connection obviously built buyer confidence.
Just three years later, Isuzu’s proven performance and reliability saw the product gain widespread market acceptance and the ‘Bedford’ name was dropped – leaving the Isuzu brand to stand on its own in the Australian truck market.
Among these ex-Bedford dealers were Gilbert and Roach and Suttons Motors in Sydney, and Patterson Cheney in Melbourne. These majors, along with other long-term dealer relationships, are testimony of the product loyalty to Isuzu.
This strong dealer network has stood the test of time and is without a doubt the catalyst of Isuzu Australia’s strength, along with its legendary reliability, contributing to the success of its 33 consecutive years of truck sales leadership today.
In mid-2022, today’s managing director, Andrew Harbison said:
“Isuzu General Motors Limited (I-GM) was formed in 1989 and the year also marked the beginning of Isuzu’s truck market leadership in Australia.
“Many exciting developments followed into the next millennium.
“Playing a critical role throughout this period was former director and chief operating officer, Phil Taylor.
“Phil’s legacy at IAL is as storied as it is lasting.
“Phil will be remembered for his ‘take no prisoners’ approach to business and an internal drive for perfection that permeates through to today.”
As ‘Y2K’ came and went, the brand announced the General Motors’ sale of its 40 per cent stake in I-GM to Isuzu Motors Limited (Japan), marking an important new milestone in 2005 – the Australian subsidiary was now 100 per cent owned by Isuzu.
Then Isuzu General Motors (I-GM) President & Managing Director, Mr Masayuki Murata, presided over this transition and acted as an important conduit between the parent company and its highly successful Australian operation.
Andrew Harbison said: “Just like those that came before him, Murata-san became a fierce advocate of product development for the Australian market.
“It’s the contribution of people like Murata-san that have seen Australia become one of the most respected and envied Isuzu subsidiaries around the world.”
Looking down the road
As IAL looks towards the next 50 years of business, a new breed of leadership has been warmly welcomed, with the business expanding its sales, innovation and strategy platforms.
“We’re extremely proud of our past, the achievements, the industry firsts and our mantle as a trusted road transport solutions provider for Australian businesses.”
“Similarly, we’re acutely aware of what awaits us as an industry leader. Change is well and truly upon us, and we’re continually working to assemble the best and brightest staff in the business.
“We’ve bolstered our capabilities in a number of areas, principally under the overarching banners of ‘Strategy and Innovation’.” Andrew Harbison said.
You can check out the Isuzu brand history in our Truck Brands section.