This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first Isuzu diesel trucks entering the U.S. market.  -  Photo: Isuzu Commercial Truck of North America

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first Isuzu diesel trucks entering the U.S. market.

Photo: Isuzu Commercial Truck of North America

Isuzu Commercial Truck of America is celebrating the 40h anniversary of Isuzu trucks in the U.S. market. The official U.S. anniversary date is March 16, 1984. On that day, Isuzu -- then called Isuzu Truck of America—was founded in the U.S.

The new company’s first truck model, the KS22, arrived in the U.S. in November of that year. The KS22 was an 87-hp model that was quicklyembraced by American truck buyers who were looking for a medium-duty truck with durability, efficiency, capability, and low cost of ownership.

Today, Isuzu sells both diesel-, and gas-powered trucks in North America. And an electric truck is coming soon.

Low-Cab-Forward Success

In 1986, barely a year after its stateside launch, Isuzu became the best-selling low-cab-forward truck in the United States, a position held every year since -- 37 consecutive years. Isuzu accounts for nearly 80% of the U.S. low cab forward truck sales.

“Isuzu trucks could not have enjoyed this level of success without the support of a loyal customer following and a strong dealer network,” said Shaun Skinner, president of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America and Isuzu Commercial Truck of Canada.

“I am proud to say that, of our nearly 300 dealers nationwide, four have been selling Isuzu trucks for the entire four-decade Isuzu history here, and we share this celebration with them.”

Skinner said Isuzu’s anniversary announcement would not be complete without calling out the four longest-standing Isuzu U.S. dealerships. They are:

  • Green Isuzu Truck, Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Midway Isuzu Truck Center, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Pierre Isuzu Trucks of Everett, Everett, Washington
  • Chapman Isuzu, Tempe, Arizona

From One Model to Many

“In addition to our dealers, we owe our success to a product lineup that has always been in tune with our customers’ needs,” Skinner continued. The company’s current lineup includes:

  • Class 3, 4 and 5 N-Series models powered by a 6.6-liter gasoline V-8
  • Class 4 and 5 N-Series trucks featuring Isuzu’s famous 4HK1-TC turbodiesel
  • Class 6 and 7 F-Series models with a Cummins B6.7 diesel under the cab.

“But we have never rested on our laurels,” Skinner added, “and we are not about to start now.”

Isuzu first Electric Truck Coming This Year

During the first half of 2024, Isuzu will introduce its first all-electric production model to the U.S. and Canadian markets. The 2025-model-year Class 5 NRR EV will feature a full 19,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating, an Isuzu-developed battery electric platform, and an all-new cab design.

“There used to be a saying, ‘Life begins at 40.’ And although Isuzu trucks have had an amazingly successful first 40 years in the U.S. market, this really is just the beginning,” Skinner added.

“The new NRR EV electric truck, our completely redesigned cab, our new suite of advanced driver assistance features and more prove that—while we are thrilled to be celebrating this milestone anniversary—we are really focused on the future. I have said many times that I believe Isuzu is better positioned for success now than at any time in our history. So, here’s to the next 40 years of providing innovation, quality, reliability, and low cost of operation to the American market.”

Highlights of Isuzu Truck History

  • 1929: The predecessors of Isuzu Motors Limited (Isuzu Commercial Truck of America’s parent company) build Japan’s first bus, with innovations including air brakes and an under-floor-mounted engine.
  • 1936: The predecessors of Isuzu Motors Limited build Japan’s first air-cooled diesel engine.
  • 1949: The name “Isuzu Motors Limited” is adopted. Isuzu is the name of a river that flows past one of Japan’s oldest and most sacred shrines. The word means “fifty bells pealing in harmony.”
  • 1955: Isuzu diesel engines, diesel-powered snow tractors and other equipment are delivered to Japan’s Antarctic Observation Base. Isuzu equipment has been operational at the South Pole ever since.
  • 1959: Isuzu Motors Limited introduces the Elf, the first generation of a line of forward-control vehicles now marketed in the United States and Canada as the N-Series.
  • 1984: Isuzu KS22 enters the U.S. market.
  • 1986: R.L. Polk certifies that Isuzu is the best-selling import commercial truck in the United States, a position now held for 37 consecutive years.
  • 1988: The two-millionth N-Series truck rolls off the assembly line in Japan.
  • 1994: The first U.S.-built gasoline-powered NPR-EFI is assembled in Janesville, Wisconsin.
  • 2005: The 50,000th N/W-Series gasoline-powered truck is built in Janesville.
  • 2010: Isuzu N-Series Trucks are the first medium-duty low-cab-forward trucks on the market to be EPA 2010 and CARB HD-OBD compliant and to be 50-state clean-idle certified.
  • 2011: Assembly of all Isuzu N-Series gas trucks for the U.S. and Canada markets begins in Charlotte, Michigan.
  • 2012: Reach, revolutionary walk-in van powered by Isuzu, is named Medium Duty Truck of the Year by Work Truck magazine.
  • 2013: Isuzu N-Series is named Medium Duty Truck of the Year by Work Truck magazine.
  • 2015: Isuzu delivers its 500,000th Isuzu-built truck since entering the North American market.
  • 2016: Isuzu opens its first Center of Excellence in northeast Pennsylvania—a 130,000-square-foot parts distribution, training and technical assistance facility. A second Center of Excellence opens the following year in Anaheim, California.
  • 2017: B10 durability rating of Isuzu 4HK1-TC engine is increased to 375,000 miles, meaning that 90% of Isuzu 4HK1-TC engines are expected to last 375,000 miles before they require a major repair or rebuild.
  • 2017: Production of all-new Class 6 Isuzu FTR begins in Charlotte.
  • 2018: Isuzu FTR named Medium Duty Truck of the Year by Work Truck magazine.
  • 2018: The 50,000th N-Series gasoline-powered truck rolls off the line in Charlotte.
  • 2021: Isuzu enters the Class 7 market with new F-Series models powered by the Cummins B6.7 diesel engine. Also available in Class 6 configuration, all F-Series trucks for the U.S. and Canada are assembled in Charlotte.
  • 2022: NQR Crew Cab wins Price Digests’ Highest Retained Value Award in the Medium-Duty Crew Cab and Chassis category.
  • 2023: The 100,000th N-Series gasoline-powered truck rolls off the line in Charlotte.
  • 2023: Isuzu announces that its first all-electric production model, the 2025 Class 5 NRR EV, will be introduced to the U.S. and Canadian markets in the first half of 2024.
  • 2023: Isuzu sets all-time records for sales of Isuzu-brand trucks and Isuzu parts.
  • 2024: Isuzu celebrates the 40th anniversary of Isuzu trucks in the U.S. market
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