Isuzu has officially announced that it's leaving the U.S. market and discontinuing sales of its i-Series pickup and Ascender SUV. Both vehicles are produced via a joint venture with General Motors, the i-Series being based on the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon pickups and the Ascender being a rebadged version of the Chevy Trailblazer. Reuters reports that it will cost Isuzu some $37 million to bug out, mostly in dealer buyouts and other move-related costs. Though the Japanese automaker will not be selling vehicles in the States, it will continue to provide parts for service. Its reason for leaving is basically that GM has no plans to replace the Colorado/Canyon and Trailblazer with models that Isuzu could rebadge, and the automaker has no plans to develop its own new models for North America.

Isuzu's sales have been extremely weak in the U.S. these past few years. Last year it sold just 7,906 units, down from 15,751 units in 2006. We can't say that we're crushed that Isuzu is leaving, although we do remember a time when Isuzu sold more than just trucks, back when the brand's image was shaped by a guy named Isuzu Joe (see commercial after jump). Remember the Impulse, Lotus-tuned Stylus (the last car sold by Isuzu in the U.S. from 1990 - 1993, and one we wouldn't mind owning ourselves), the wild VehiCROSS and sharply styled Axiom? Yes, we can remember better times for Isuzu in the U.S., but recent bad times have led the automaker to this decision. Farewell, Isuzu! Read Isuzu's official press release after the jump.

[Source: Reuters via Pickuptruck.com]

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PRESS RELEASE:

Isuzu to End North American SUV Sales

Isuzu Motors Limited (President Susumu Hosoi; "Isuzu") has decided to end its North American SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) new vehicle sales business as of January 31. 2009.

This decision to end the SUV new vehicle sales business was made because there are no forecasts for continuation of the SUV business through introduction of a next-generation vehicle model or a Isuzu-made model to replace the GM-OEM vehicle currently being marketed (Ascender and i-series pick-up trucks). The SUV parts and service business will continue.

Currently, Isuzu's North American business comprises the three businesses of CV (trucks), SUV and PT (diesel engines and components).

In the CV business, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America (ICTA) carries out sales primarily of light duty vehicle as N Series (ELF in Japan). In the SUV business, Isuzu Motors America (ISZA) carries out sales of OEM vehicle from GM, and in the PT business, ISZA carries out sales of industrial diesel engines and components. With this decision to end SUV operations, Isuzu's North American business will focus on the CV and PT businesses.

Isuzu's North American SUV business began with the establishment of American Isuzu Motors Inc. in 1980 (AIMI later merged with ISZA), and in 1999 sales surpassed 100,000 units annually. In 2002, Isuzu introduced GM-OEM vehicle. However, by 2007, the total number of units sold fell to around 7,000 units for the year.

In the CV business, Isuzu last year implemented measures to strengthen its North American sales structure as part of its efforts to strengthen cab over truck sales globally, and aided in part by the expansion of CV units sold in North America, in the mid-term management plan that commences this year, Isuzu is targeting overseas truck sales of 350,000 units.