Business / Corporate

Isuzu bets on growing demand for light commercial vehicles in India

Nna/kyodo

Automaker Isuzu Motors Ltd. is looking to boost sales in India by riding a wave of rapid growth in the segment for light commercial vehicles, including pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Subsidiary Isuzu Motors India Pvt. Ltd. aims to sell about 8,000 vehicles in the year ending March 2019 after having topped cumulative sales of 10,000 units since its establishment in 2012, said Deputy Managing Director Ken Takashima.

Its dealerships are scattered across 35 locations in all key cities.

“Our products are gaining traction for their reliability, durability and performance,” he said.

“We will continue to expand our dealer networks in India gradually.”

The light commercial vehicle segment accounts for about 60 percent of all commercial vehicle sales in the country. Sales in fiscal 2017 grew 25.4 percent from a year earlier, while sales of utility vehicles saw year-on-year growth of 21 percent versus 7.9 percent for the car segment, according the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Isuzu said last week that the Indian unit has named as brand ambassador former South African cricket player Jonty Rhodes, a well-known figure in India, where cricket is one of the most popular sports, as it aims to promote its pickups and sport utility vehicles such as Isuzu D-Max V-Cross.

The V-Cross is expanding its presence not only among adventure-seekers but also among families looking for excitement, and women have taken to the vehicle as well, Takashima said.

Another pickup model, the D-max, is gaining attention for use in cold chain logistics, he added.

Isuzu Motors India manufactures four models at a plant that was inaugurated in April 2016 in Sri City on the outskirts of Chennai, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The automaker has earmarked 30 billion rupees ($427 million) for its Indian operations, mainly for the production facility, to make it a manufacturing hub for emerging markets, Takashima said.