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Déjà vu - GM to source medium-duty trucks from Isuzu


kscarbel2
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Reuters / June 15, 2015

General Motors will re-enter the U.S. medium-duty truck market next year with Chevrolet-branded vehicles supplied by Isuzu Motors Ltd., people familiar with the matter said today.

The companies are due to make an announcement soon, the people said, declining to be identified because the information is not yet public.

The deal was reported by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

The long-time partners have in the past jointly developed trucks such as the Chevy Colorado pickup, sold as the i-Series by Isuzu.

GM sold its stake in Isuzu in 2006 after a 35-year capital alliance as it faced financial difficulties, and later announced its exit from the medium-duty truck market when its problems escalated and it filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

It was not immediately clear how many vehicles Isuzu would supply under the original equipment manufacturing deal.

Of the total, 80 percent would be powered by diesel engines and be shipped from Japan. The rest will be assembled at a plant operated by an Isuzu partner in the U.S. with gasoline engines supplied by GM, the sources said.

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GM to Return to U.S. Medium-Truck Market

The Wall Street Journal / June 14, 2015

General Motors is poised to re-enter the growing and potentially lucrative U.S. market for medium-duty work trucks, an area it abandoned during its restructuring last decade.

The Detroit auto giant will team up with Japan’s Isuzu Motors Ltd. to procure work trucks to be sold in the U.S. under the Chevrolet brand. GM and Isuzu have worked together for decades.

While Isuzu will build the vehicles, GM will rely on its own dealer network and reputation as a truck company to lay claim to a medium-duty market that has grown 3.5% in 2015.

GM will begin taking the Isuzu-built N-series truck and putting a Chevrolet brand on it soon, according to dealers briefed on the plan. GM will unveil the partnership Monday in a move likely to be well-received by a U.S. dealer body clamoring for more work trucks to sell amid stronger economic conditions.

The contract-manufacturing relationship with Isuzu isn’t atypical for an auto industry looking to share the cost of developing new products. GM, for instance, also purchases work vans from Nissan Motor Co., rebrands them as Chevys and sells them in the U.S.

GM will supply an engine for the Isuzu-built Chevrolet medium-duty trucks, according to one person familiar with the production strategy. Financial terms of GM’s agreement with Isuzu aren’t immediately known.

The move represents the latest in a series of steps taken under Chief Executive Mary Barra and her predecessors in recent years to rebuild after years of downsizing. Facing a cash crunch last decade, the company killed brands, sold off or abandoned divisions such as Allison Transmission, and exited the business of directly financing auto purchases.

In 2010, it bought a finance company and earlier this year took steps to dramatically expand it, for example. It is investing $5.4 billion over the next three years to upgrade its U.S. manufacturing footprint and billions of dollars more into reviving Cadillac, growing in South America and fortifying its position in China.

There have been about 75,000 Class 4 through Class 7 trucks sold in the U.S. through May, according to automotive-information provider WardsAuto.com. That is up from 53,000 sold in the first five months of 2011 and 72,000 sold in the same period in 2014.

Medium-duty trucks serve a variety of roles, with highly capable cabs and chassis serving as the basis for dump trucks, garbage trucks, tow trucks and a variety of other functions. Sales of these vehicles can deliver substantial profits.

The GMC Topkick and Chevrolet Kodiak, once built at GM's plants in Janesville, Wisconsin and Flint, Michigan, were once mainstays for medium-truck buyers, but the auto maker decided to abandon that market around the time it filed bankruptcy protection in 2009.

GM had forged an agreement in 2008 to sell the business to Navistar International Corp., but that plan unraveled.

While the Isuzu joint venture is just a small step, it represents the beginning of what is planned to be a wider foray into a market where rivals Ford and Daimler have remained active. The move should provide at least a portion of GM’s Chevrolet dealers opportunity to make additional money selling, servicing and outfitting professional-use work trucks.

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Seems like a no brainer for GM to keep the dealers happy-Not sure how I would feel however if I were an Isuzu dealer.

I thought for sure if GM got back in they would take up Ford's space in the Navistar Escobedo plant. Instead of a Ford Super Duty cab sitting on a Navistar 4000 chassis, you would see a 3500 GM cab. Maybe later?

In any case, the little Isuzu diesels have a good rep and that should cause some concern at Ford unless they can engineer their Transit diesel option into something bigger than 10,300 lbs GVW which is currently their biggest van diesel option.

Not everyone wants a conventional cab, V-8 powered truck in the 14,000-26,000 lb range IMO

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Chevrolet Re-Enters Low-Cab Forward Market

Heavy Duty Trucking / June 15, 2015

Chevrolet will offer low-cab forward medium-duty trucks in the U.S. in calendar-year 2016, the automaker announced at its dealer meeting in Las Vegas on June 15, returning the brand to a growing segment of the commercial vehicle market and expanding choices for fleet and commercial truck customers.

The six new models — Chevrolet 3500, 3500HD, 4500, 4500HD, 5500, and 5500HD — are based on the Isuzu N-Series, which General Motors will procure from Isuzu and distribute through Chevrolet dealers.

The six new models will be branded as Chevrolet Low Cab Forward.

According to John Schwegman, director of commercial products for GM Fleet and Commercial Operations, the Low Cab Forward models will fill a product hole in the GM lineup in the Class 3-5 truck segments.

The new trucks will be offered in regular-cab and crew-cab body styles.

A General Motors’ sourced 6.0L V-8 gasoline engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, or Isuzu-sourced 3.0L and 5.2L turbodiesel engines, will be available, depending on the model.

The gasoline-powered models will be assembled from complete knock down (CKD) kits in the U.S. at the Spartan Motors assembly plant in Charlotte, Michigan.

Along with the Isuzu-badged versions, the Chevrolet models will be the only low-cab forward trucks in the North American market to offer a gasoline-powered powertrain. Additional features include:

  • Excellent visibility and maneuverability — especially in urban environments.
  • Easy driver entry and exit.
  • Chassis lengths ranging from 109 inches to 212 inches.
  • Compatibility with a variety of body types, including refrigerated box, stake/flat bed, and service bodies.
  • Easy-access engine compartment with 45-degree tilting cab.

Additional features and specifications will be available closer to the start of production.

“Bringing low-cab forward trucks back to our portfolio strengthens Chevrolet’s commitment to providing commercial customers with more choices and provides customers with a versatile lineup of trucks, vans, and crossovers,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president of GM Fleet and Commercial Sales. “This addition helps our dealers satisfy their commercial customers’ needs all in one place.”

In addition to the new Low-Cab Forward trucks, Chevrolet’s fleet and commercial choices include the full-size Silverado lineup, the Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD full-size chassis cab models, and the mid-size Colorado, which offers a box-delete and seat-delete option, as well as the City Express small van and Express range of full-size vans.

According to Peper, key vocational markets being targeted by Chevrolet for the new Low Cab Forward models include refrigerated food delivery, distribution applications, construction industry, landscaping, government, and urban applications.

The vehicle collaboration agreement in the U.S. between General Motors and Isuzu Motors is the latest in a more than 40 year strategic partnership between the two companies that has included other commercial vehicle collaborations throughout the world.

According to both companies, to strengthen the product lineup, GM and Isuzu will explore the use of GM com-mercial vehicle components for Isuzu low-cab forward trucks, and GM will continue to produce and supply the 6.0L V-8 gasoline engine and 6-speed transmission for Isuzu gasoline-powered low-cab forward trucks.

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Maybe Ford will bring back the "Cargo" to the U.S; these don't look like competition for IHC, FL M2, or the Ford F-650/750. While they're at it, bring the Ranger back also.

bulldogboy

Agree on the Cargo. Ford has a big gap in their lineup now as the Transit's max GCW is 10,300 lbs and while I hear good things about the 3.2L Ford Duratorque diesel, there is no diesel LCF type truck above that. And the E 450 cutaway'sdays are numbered although I think they sell around 4000 of those a month. These are built at the Avon Lake Ohio plant that on July 13th (15th?) will start building the new 650/750.

Ranger too but that is wishful thining-anything that takes away from150 sales is out of the question I'm afraid.

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The new Chevrolet low cab forward (LCF) truck website - http://www.chevrolet.com/low-cab-forward-trucks.html

Picture gallery - http://www.chevrolet.com/low-cab-forward-trucks/exterior-pictures.html

Chevrolet LCF to Isuzu N-series cross-reference

GVWR

3500 NPR 6.0L gasoline 12,000lb (5,443kg)

3500HD NPR Eco-Max 3.0L diesel 12,000lb (5,443kg)

4500 NPR HD 6.0L gasoline 14,500lb (6,577kg)

4500HD NPR XD 5.2L diesel 16,000lb (7,257kg)

5500 NQR 5.2L diesel 17,950lb (8,142kg)

5500HD NRR 5.2L diesel 19,500lb (8,845kg)

References:

Isuzu America - http://www.isuzucv.com/nseries/diesel_trucks

Chevrolet Chassis Cab - http://www.chevrolet.com/silverado-3500-chassis-cab.html

Dodge Chassis Cab - http://www.ramtrucks.com/en/ram_chassis_cab/

Ford Chassis Cab - http://www.ford.com/commercial-trucks/chassis-cab/?fmccmp=lp-truck-commercial-mid-hp-chassis-cab-comm

Given the depth of GM’s capabilities, it’s very surprising that GM did not create a Chevrolet-unique front fascia for the NPR variants they plan to sell, to avoid inevitable customer confusion in the marketplace with Isuzu-branded versions, as they have the exact same front grille, corner panels and headlamps.

Unless.........Isuzu plans to hand off North American distribution of their N-series light trucks to GM. Isuzu gave up car production in 2002 to focus on pickups, SUVs and commercial trucks. Pickup truck and light truck (NPR) sales remain strong, but profits are slim. Medium truck sales are moderate, and heavy truck sales few. Struggling now more than ever to make a profit, and with a minimal R&D budget, Isuzu could free itself of its North American overhead costs by handing off to GM, and at the same time multiply its sales and service locations ten-fold. It’s conceivably a win-win.

In any case, GM should have given its new NPR range a distinctly Chevrolet front end following the styling cues of the Silverado 3500HD chassis cab.

I will boldly say that I don’t think this is going to fly.

Reason 1 – In 1999, Ford launched the game-changing Super-Duty commercial cab & chassis, raising the bar on cab interior space, comfort and appointments. GM and Dodge (aka. RAM) followed suit. Many potential customers, after climbing in a NPR, will gravitate to the more spacious American conventional cab & chassis which have the relaxed seating position they’re accustomed too.

Reason 2 – Fleets are focused on reliability and operating economy, and the NPR delivers without compromise. However, being imported from Japan, the price of these trucks, and the spare parts, will be considered high. And, the maintenance regimen, for example brake jobs, is unlike the U.S. trucks. I suspect most fleets will remain with the Ford Super-Duty, Chevrolet Silverado chassis cab (3500HD), and/or Dodge chassis cab (3500, 4500, 5500) light trucks they are already satisfied with.

Reason 3 – The Isuzu 3.0 and 5.2-liter 4-cylinder in-line diesel engines are fuel sippers. But many fleets and individuals have a bias towards the larger 6.7L Powerstroke, 6.6L Duramax and 6.7L Cummins ISB. In many global regions where fuel costs have always been high, operating economy has always dominated the purchase decision. But most American customers lean towards the larger engines.

If Penske Leasing buys thousands of these as in years past, and later expels them into the used truck market, GM will have some traction. GM won’t make any money but they’ll gain visibility.

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I don't know, I suggested an NPR to a friend 15 years ago, he never bought another domestic class 4/5 truck. Says the Isuzu's reliability, cost of ownership, and maneuverability is far superior to any domestic truck. Cabs are spacious, but not as easy to get in and out of. Isuzu's crew cab is far larger inside than any domestic. Body mounting is easier as well. Parts can be more expensive, but who cares if you don't need them?

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I don't know, I suggested an NPR to a friend 15 years ago, he never bought another domestic class 4/5 truck. Says the Isuzu's reliability, cost of ownership, and maneuverability is far superior to any domestic truck. Cabs are spacious, but not as easy to get in and out of. Isuzu's crew cab is far larger inside than any domestic. Body mounting is easier as well. Parts can be more expensive, but who cares if you don't need them?

Kind of foots with everything I have heard about them-no complaints, simple and dependable.

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Automotive News / June 22, 2015

Ed Peper, GM's vice president of fleet and commercial sales, said dealers who do significant fleet business have been asking for years for GM to return to the medium-duty market.

"We've heard from Chevy dealers saying, 'What are you going to do on medium-duty product?' There are a lot of adjacent sales associated with it," Peper said in an interview.

GM shut down its medium-duty truck line in 2009 while in bankruptcy after failing to find a buyer for the operation.

Chevy will sell regular-cab and crew-cab versions of the new trucks, which will offer a GM-sourced 6.0-liter, V-8 gasoline engine or Isuzu's 3.0-liter and 5.2-liter turbodiesel engines, depending on the model. The line will be based on Isuzu's N Series trucks.

While Ford Motor Co. sells other styles of medium-duty trucks, Peper said no domestic competitor sells low-cab forward trucks, which position the driver as far forward as possible, in front of the engine. They're used in everything from construction and garbage collection to food delivery.

Peper said the U.S. market for low-cab forward trucks is about 30,000 units annually. Isuzu and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. also sell them.

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If I was in the market for a one ton pickup I'd go with an NPR or similar with a flatbed instead- If you're going to have to lift the cab to get at the turbo and other stuff buried on the back of the engine, get a cab that's hinged and doesn't require an overhead hoist to lift out of the way!

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  • 1 year later...

Chevrolet’s New Low Cab Forward Trucks Heading to Dealers Nationwide

Chevrolet Pressroom  /  July 27, 2016

DETROIT – Chevrolet’s new Low Cab Forward trucks are now shipping to Chevrolet dealers across the country, marking Chevrolet’s return to the medium duty market. The new Low Cab Forward series strengthens Chevrolet’s expansive truck portfolio, which includes midsize, light duty and heavy duty pickups.

“We’re in the business of helping our commercial customers succeed, and a big part of that is providing the vehicle choices they need to efficiently operate their businesses,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president, General Motors Fleet. “Our new Low Cab Forward trucks are the answer for our customers who require expansive payload, cargo-hauling capabilities and exceptional maneuverability.   

The Chevrolet Low Cab Forward has great customer-focused functionality, including a maneuverable Cab Over design for optimal visibility and a tight turning radius for efficient hauling in busy, urban environments.

The new trucks are offered in regular cab and crew cab body styles, with either a 6.0L V-8 gas engine, a 3.0L turbo-diesel engine or a 5.2L turbo-diesel engine. All engines are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions. Class 3 through 5 models are available with maximum GVWR ranges of up to 19,500 pounds.

“Drivers will love this truck because it’s comfortable, versatile and easy to drive, but the thing that will set us apart for owners-operators and fleet managers is ease of service through a nationwide network of Chevrolet commercial dealers,” said John Schwegman, director of commercial product, General Motors Fleet.

Pricing begins at an MSRP of $40,900 for trucks with gasoline engines. Pricing for trucks with diesel engines begins at an MSRP of $48,375. Prices include a $1,125 destination charge but exclude tax, title, license and dealer fees. For more information about the new Chevrolet Low Cab Forward series and Chevrolet’s comprehensive commercial lineup, visit www.chevrolet.com.

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling more than 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

Related reading:

http://www.bigmacktrucks.com/topic/40483-déjà-vu-gm-to-source-medium-duty-trucks-from-isuzu/#comment-293445

http://www.bigmacktrucks.com/topic/44571-spartan-expands-contract-assembly-for-isuzu-with-new-f-series-truck/#comment-328885

http://www.gmfleet.com/chevrolet/low-cab-forward-trucks.html

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Spartan Motors Hosts GM and Isuzu Executives as First Chevrolet Medium Duty Truck Rolls off its Production Line

Spartan Motors Press Release  /  July 27, 2016

Spartan Motors plays host to General Motors and Isuzu Commercial Truck of America executives today as they celebrate the first of the new Chevrolet medium duty, gasoline-powered trucks as the first unit rolls off the production line at the Spartan Motors plant in Charlotte, Michigan.

The new Chevrolet 3500, 3500HD, 4500, 4500HD, 4500XD, 5500HD and 5500XD truck line is the result of a strategic business relationship between General Motors and Isuzu. Spartan was awarded the build contract and is responsible for the assembly of the trucks, which are based on Isuzu's N-Series design.

"Production of the Chevrolet medium duty line begins in earnest today as we witness the first of what we expect to be many of these durable and maneuverable vehicles roll off our assembly line," said Daryl Adams, President and Chief Executive Officer, Spartan Motors. "Our strategic business relationship with Isuzu began in 2011, and our Company has realized significant growth and success in this segment due in part to the great trust they've shown in our team's execution of their vision for this broad product line. In fact, we celebrated the 30,000th Isuzu N-Series production milestone this year, and we expect GM will realize similar success with their vehicle line."

Spartan Motors will be manufacturing seven different Chevrolet models including regular-cab and crew-cab body style options and chassis lengths ranging from 109 inches to 212 inches.

Additionally, several drivetrain options exist, including a 6.0 liter, V-8 GM gasoline engine as well as Isuzu-sourced 3.0 liter or 5.2 liter turbo-diesel engines. All engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

"One of our core competencies at Spartan is our contract manufacturing expertise," added Adams. "This expansion of our relationship with Isuzu, and thereby General Motors, is a reflection of our traditional high standards of quality and reliability that are built into every specialty chassis and vehicle we manufacture."

Video - https://www.thestreet.com/story/13655043/1/spartan-motors-hosts-general-motors-and-isuzu-executives-as-first-chevrolet-medium-duty-truck-rolls-off-its-production-line.html

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You know, I am not sure how much of the North American class 4/5 truck market LCF's are capable of taking.  I have read were domestic class 4/5 LCF sales have doubled since 2010, and are running up 6% so far this year.  As of now, you have Isuzu, Hino, and Fuso in the market, and none of these players has a very large distribution/dealer network.  Throwing several hundred Chevy Commercial dealers into the game might make things very interesting.  Also consider that before 2010, you also had a large number of Chevy, GMC, and Nissan UD dealers selling this type of truck.  With those dealers gone, sales volume still increased significantly 2010-present.  

I too think a bias towards 6.5L+ diesels as used in the domestic conventional class 4/5 trucks was holding LCF sales back, but I think that is coming to an end.  These engines are too large and powerful for economical class 4/5 use, and truck buyers may be starting to figure this out.  Regardless, coming CAFE standards will eventually render those large diesels obsolete in class 4/5 anyway.  Don't ignore the significance of the upcoming Detroit Diesel DD5 Freightliner and 5.2L Isuzu F series in class 6 either. 

 

  

 

 

 

Edited by RoadwayR
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14 hours ago, RoadwayR said:

You know, I am not sure how much of the North American class 4/5 truck market LCF's are capable of taking.  I have read were domestic class 4/5 LCF sales have doubled since 2010, and are running up 6% so far this year.  As of now, you have Isuzu, Hino, and Fuso in the market, and none of these players has a very large distribution/dealer network.  Throwing several hundred Chevy Commercial dealers into the game might make things very interesting.  Also consider that before 2010, you also had a large number of Chevy, GMC, and Nissan UD dealers selling this type of truck.  With those dealers gone, sales volume still increased significantly 2010-present.  

I too think a bias towards 6.5L+ diesels as used in the domestic conventional class 4/5 trucks was holding LCF sales back, but I think that is coming to an end.  These engines are too large and powerful for economical class 4/5 use, and truck buyers may be starting to figure this out.  Regardless, coming CAFE standards will eventually render those large diesels obsolete in class 4/5 anyway.  Don't ignore the significance of the upcoming Detroit Diesel DD5 Freightliner and 5.2L Isuzu F series in class 6 either.

For sure.  I would bet within a year the Ford and Dodge market shares in class 3-4-5 will each be down by 5-10%  Conversely that says within a year, GM will have 10 to 20% of the class.  As a Ford stockholder, hope I'm wrong but is I'm a small business man do I want to put some incompetent kid in a 19,500 lb Ram or F-550 long hood with over 400HP??  

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At any time in the past, when General Motors was a force in the commercial truck segment, GMC was the brand that sold most of the trucks, rather than Chevrolet.

Thus, I'm shocked that the Isuzu and Navistar trucks are going to be sold exclusively under the Chevrolet badge.

Evidently, current GM management is clueless about its place in the commercial truck segment, not knowing that GMC is 'The Truck people from General Motors."

Apparently, GM corporate now wants GMC to just be the Denali brand, home of absurdly expensive Ranger Rover-priced SUVs with liberal amounts of plastic chrome. A heck of a waste of brand value.

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2 hours ago, kscarbel2 said:

At any time in the past, when General Motors was a force in the commercial truck segment, GMC was the brand that sold most of the trucks, rather than Chevrolet.

Thus, I'm shocked that the Isuzu and Navistar trucks are going to be sold exclusively under the Chevrolet badge.

Evidently, current GM management is clueless about its place in the commercial truck segment, not knowing that GMC is 'The Truck people from General Motors."

Apparently, GM corporate now wants GMC to just be the Denali brand, home of absurdly expensive Ranger Rover-priced SUVs with liberal amounts of plastic chrome. A heck of a waste of brand value.

Agree 100%  I guess the mindset is "more Chevy dealers vs. GMC.  In any case, if its just a matter of a badge and the expense of printing a lot of duplicate literature (from sales brochures to owner manuals) I would think the added dealer coverage would far offset any admin cost.  I do know of at least one GMC dealer who WAS a true commercial dealer and he is bullshit in plain English.  I can think of at least 4 GMC dealers that were true commercial dealers here in Mass.  Can't think of one Chevy dealer who would fit that bill.

Your comment on "The Truck people from General Motors" may be changed to..."The Truck People from General Motors-Well Sort of"

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