MONTEREY, Calif. - American Isuzu Motors Inc. will do the competition one better by offering a 10-year, 120,000-mile powertrain warranty on its 2000-model sport-utilities.
The warranty will be the longest factory powertrain coverage in the industry.
Only the Amigo, Rodeo, Trooper and VehiCross are covered by the warranty. The Hombre compact pickup, an assembly-line twin of the Chevrolet S10, does not have the extended coverage.
The warranty covers the engine, transmission, steering assembly, suspension and axles. Adjustment and maintenance items are not covered.
The warranty is transferable only if the vehicle is sold to a member of the owner's immediate family. Otherwise it reverts to a three-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
'We don't want the warranty to be an apology for quality,' said Mark Darling, Isuzu vice president of marketing, referring to a similar warranty plan launched by Hyundai last year.
'Instead we have to hype our `Go Farther' marketing message to show that we are willing to go farther in backing our product,' Darling added.
The warranty will be a key support to Isuzu's advertising campaign. It will be trumpeted in every advertisement, Darling said.
However, even though 2000-model vehicles are arriving in dealerships, Isuzu won't begin publicizing the warranty until December, Darling added.
Isuzu officials doubt the new warranty package will be expensive to maintain. Last year, the Rodeo posted a 27 percent improvement in the J.D. Power and Associates initial quality survey.
The plan was not initiated by the factory. Instead, Isuzu's dealer council began pushing for it less than two months ago. Isuzu's small size and flexibility allowed it to hatch the program in time for the 2000 model year, Darling said.
In 1998, Isuzu sold 101,830 vehicles in the United States. Sales through September are up 3.9 percent.