Isuzu Motors Limited, the well-appreciated multinational Japanese car maker, has quietly entered the Indian auto sector and is currently working towards setting up its own localised production facility in the country. The renowned utility vehicle maker has chosen South India, as its preferred territory to enter the domestic auto market and has also established two retail outlets in Hyderabad and Coimbatore. As per industry reports, the Indian arm of Isuzu Motors has finalised plans of setting up its manufacturing plant for Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) and pick up trucks in Andhra Pradesh. The facility is expected to begin operations in the next two to three years.
Commenting on the company's plans for Indian auto market, Shigeru Wakabayashi, Deputy Managing Director (MD), Isuzu Motors, has been quoted as saying, “We plan to sell some 80,000 units in the domestic market, which is growing at a healthy pace on the back of steady economic growth, and export some 40,000 units.” Wakabayashi has revealed that the company has set aside an investment of Rs. 1,500 crore for its upcoming vehicle manufacturing facility, which will be spent over the next 5 to 7 years. He also said that the plant will have an annual capacity of 1.2 lakh units, of which about 25 per cent units will be exported overseas.
At present, Isuzu Motors has two models in its Indian product portfolio, namely the MU-7 premium SUV and the D-Max pick up truck. The 7-seater MU-7 SUV is offered to domestic car buyers carries at an introductory retail value of Rs. 23.75 lakh, whereas the Isuzu D-Max pick up trucks come in the price bracket Rs. 6.87 to Rs. 8.09 lakh. The Japanese car maker retails both of its models via Completely Built Unit (CBU) route in the Indian auto market.
Coming to under-the-hood specifications of the Isuzu MU-7, the model derives its power by a 3.0 litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel powertrain, which churns out highest power and torque ratings of 161 bhp and 360 Nm, respectively. The Isuzu MU-7 drive train is offered with options of a four speed automatic and five speed manual gearboxes, depending upon the variant. The Japanese auto maker has pitched its premium SUV against the likes of segment leaders- Mahindra SsangYong Rexton, Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. Further, the MU-7 also competes against Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Outlander in the Indian auto market.
On other hand, the Isuzu D-Max pick up truck is powered with a 2.5 litre turbocharged diesel power-mill rated with a peak output power close to 115 bhp. The company has pitched its D-Max pick up truck against the likes of Mahindra Bolero pick up and the premium Tata Xenon. Speaking his mind regarding the company's localised manufacturing objectives, Wakabayashi said, “We plan to produce pick up truck D-max and pick up derivative MU-7 from the AP (Andhra Pradesh) facility and we are currently studying details pertaining stamping, welding, painting, assembling, engine manufacturing and transmission assembling.” Experts feel that if Isuzu starts local assembly of MU-7 and D-Max models on the Indian turf, the move can certainly bring down their prices drastically, which are already pretty competitive at the moment.