Isuzu Trucks celebrates 50 years in Australia

Along with topping the truck sales charts for 33 consecutive years, 2022 also marks Isuzu Trucks’ 50th anniversary of selling trucks in Australia.

In celebrating the brand’s achievements, Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) director and chief operating officer, Andrew Harbison, lauded the ‘Isuzu family’ past and present.

“There’s little doubt the story of Isuzu in this country has been underpinned by a fantastic product, born out of a union between a Tokyo ship-building company and an energy producer back in 1916, both motivated by one clear vision – to build quality vehicles,” said Harbison.

“Although, perhaps hidden somewhat is the story of the people, and the commitment of those people in delivering superior support, better ideas and the best service in the business.”

Introduced to Australia by General Motors Holden (GMH) in 1972, Isuzu trucks were initially marketed as Bedford by Isuzu, which helped appeal to an audience unfamiliar with the brand. The Bedford tie-up built buyer confidence and stands as the nucleus to the Isuzu brand we know and trust today.

Just three years later, Isuzu’s 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.

“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,” Harbison noted.

A 1958 Isuzu Elf.

“Many exciting developments followed this period and well into the next millennium. Playing a critical role throughout this period were Isuzu giants like former director and chief operating officer, Phil Taylor.

“Phil’s legacy at IAL is as storied as it is lasting.

“Coming from a truck sales background, Phil brought some street smarts to the leadership at IAL and can be credited with modernising the Isuzu dealer footprint from a sales perspective.

“Phil was a people person at heart and recognised talent when he saw it. IAL’s internal processes and practices definitely took a huge leap forward under Phil’s watch, too,” Harbison added.

“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, with the Australian subsidiary now 100 per cent owned by Isuzu.

General Motors (I-GM) president and managing director, Masayuki Murata, presided over the transition and acted as an important conduit between the parent company and its highly successful Australian operation.

“Just like those that came before him, Murata-san became a fierce advocate of product development for the Australian market,” explained Harbison.

Isuzu today, celebrating 50 years in Australia.

“It’s the contribution of people like Murata-san that have seen Australia end up as one of the most respected and envied Isuzu subsidiaries in the world. Moreover, Murata-san’s approach has set the tone for some of our other Japanese managing directors, Mike Yoda and Hiroko Yaguchi, to name a few.”

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,” Harbison said.

“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 in the business.”

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