LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Subaru of America Inc.'s success is driving growth at Subaru-Isuzu Automotive Inc., while Isuzu Motors Ltd. struggles with soft sales, another change in the seesaw history of the partners at the joint-venture auto plant.
Subaru has invested $46 million to add engine machining and increase production at the plant here. The engine blocks are cast in Japan. The plant has been assembling engines from imported kits since the late 1990s.
It also will soon begin building a new pickup hybrid, the Baja, and is quietly planning to step up U.S. engine and vehicle output to as many as 160,000 units a year.
The growth keeps the plant's 3,100 workers busy. The plant has seen Isuzu output decline over the past year as sales of the Axiom sport-utility fell short of initial goals and production of the Honda Passport, a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo, ended as American Honda Motor Co. replaced it with the Pilot.
Since the mid-1990s, Subaru-Isuzu has built 93,000 to 108,000 cars a year for Subaru in North America and a few export markets. This year Subaru production is expected to reach 105,340 cars. Overall output is expected to reach 168,875 units.
The plant's new engine operation will produce all four-cylinder engines used for U.S. Subarus, including the Legacy sedan and wagon, Outback models and the Legacy-based Baja that begins production this summer.