Isuzu told dealers that it plans to halt production of the Axiom and Rodeo in July.
That leaves just two models in Isuzu's lineup: the five- and seven-seat Ascender. Dealers are not likely to get a new model until 2007, said Terry Maloney, president of Isuzu Motors America.
At that time, Isuzu will introduce an SUV positioned between the two Ascender models, which share platforms with the Chevrolet TrailBlazer. The new model will be produced at an Isuzu plant in Thailand.
"We know that 2005 and 2006 will be challenging," Maloney said in an interview after the make meeting.
Sales have been weak, and Isuzu does not expect a quick turnaround. This year, Isuzu expects to sell only 29,000 units in the United States, down from 30,328 units in 2003.
But Maloney said he is confident that Isuzu can survive in the U.S. market. "I know we can be profitable selling under 40,000 units," he said. "Our breakeven point is not that high."
Perhaps not, but Isuzu did not have much good news. The company says it:
But Isuzu will increase its advertising budget by 33 percent this year. Most of the money will go to regional dealer ad groups. The company also will spend more money on Web site ads to generate more sales leads for dealers.