A five-year plan was the focus of the Isuzu make meeting at the NADA convention.
Bert Allen, chairman of the Isuzu dealer council, said after the meeting that the automaker will launch a new model annually through 2005, including new versions of the Trooper and Rodeo.
Bob Reilly, senior vice president and COO of American Isuzu Motors Inc., said he told the dealers the company is in the 'middle-term' of a production plan to replace and refurbish models. A new Trooper is expected in 2002 or 2003 and a new Rodeo in 2004 or 2005.
No commitments have been made to put Isuzu's VX-4 or ZXS concept cars in production, Allen said. But Reilly said executives in Tokyo and Detroit have been discussing the possibility of producing the ZXS for North America.
Isuzu's 10-year/120,000-mile warranty on sport-utilities, introduced in November 1999, has been popular with dealers, Reilly said. January 2000 sales of sport-utilities have jumped 63 percent over January 1999. Reilly said dealers credited the warranty for the surge.
Reilly also said vehicle quality improved 23 percent in 1999 over 1998. Isuzu's goal is to be 'best-in-class' by 2004, he said.
Dealers are 'uniformly pleased' with Isuzu's Performance Plan, Reilly said. The plan, which was launched in 1999, includes Isuzu paying financial incentives directly to dealership sales and service staff and managers who meet sales and customer satisfaction objectives. There had been some early controversy over Isuzu making direct payments to dealership employees, Reilly said.
One element of the program is a debit card incentive. After a sales representative passes annual product training and sells three vehicles, his or her debit card is credited with a financial bonus for every subsequent sold vehicle.
In 1999, the bonus was a flat $99 per vehicle. New in 2000 is a 'Spin to Win' component. When a vehicle is sold, the sales representative spins a wheel to determine his or her bonus. The amounts range from $50 to $500.
The beauty of the program, Reilly said, is that incentives are credited to the employee immediately. A portion of the money is held until the end of the year to discourage employee turnover.
Allen described the make meeting as 'the most upbeat at NADA' in the 18 years he has been a dealer. Reilly said this was the first year dealers asked company executives to be present for the full session.