January 30, 2008 / 7:04 PM / 12 years ago

Japan's Isuzu to quit N. American SUV sales

TOKYO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Japanese truck maker Isuzu Motors Ltd (7202.T) said on Thursday it would end sales of sport utility vehicles in North America in a year due to dwindling demand.

Isuzu began selling SUVs in North America in the 1980s and in 1999 its annual sales there topped 100,000 vehicles, led by the popular Trooper model.

Financial difficulties later forced Isuzu to pull out of a joint venture factory in Indiana with Subaru-maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd (7270.T) in 2002, and instead sell SUVs built by former top shareholder General Motors Corp (GM.N).

Isuzu said in a statement that its North American SUV sales totaled just 7,000 vehicles last year.

The termination will result in an extraordinary loss of 4 billion yen ($37 million) to be booked partly in the current business year ending on March 31 and some in the new year, a spokesman in Tokyo said.

The firm’s latest projections call for a group net profit of 80 billion yen in the year to March.

Isuzu will continue SUV parts sales and maintenance in North America, the spokesman said.

Isuzu said last year it would focus its North American efforts on expanding its commercial vehicle business, as part of a drive to increase such truck sales outside Japan by 64 percent to 350,000 by 2011. ($1=106.92 Yen) (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Nobuhiro Kubo)

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