Japanese truck maker Isuzu Motors Ltd. is freezing its
plans to build a new factory in North America over economic concerns
raised by the U.S. home loan crisis, a news report said Wednesday.
Isuzu president Susumu Hosoi told Kyodo News agency in an
interview the company is watching to see whether the subprime
mortgage crisis could have global repercussions.
Concerns about the crisis' impact have led the company to put
plans for a North America plant on hold, he told Kyodo.
``Our projections for the U.S. market down the road are not very
good, and we can't see sufficient volume'' of sales coming from
there, Kyodo quoted him as saying.
This April, Isuzu bought land in Birmingham, Ala., for future
business activities in North America, including possibly setting up
a vehicle assembly plant there.
It was not immediately clear from the report if the plant under
discussion had been slated for the Birmingham property.
A message seeking comment was left before business hours
Wednesday for Isuzu spokesman Chip Letzgus.
Last month, Hosoi said at the time Isuzu reported first-half
earnings the company had experienced a sales slowdown in North
America over the April-September period and prospects for recovery
Isuzu's truck sales in North America grew about 10 per cent to
27,000 units in 2006, and the company had said it hoped to grow that
number to 50,000 units.
Nearly all of Isuzu's vehicles sold in the United States are
imported from Japan. Tokyo-based Isuzu produces fewer than 5,000
trucks a year, using a GM plant in Janesville, Wis., in an agreement
with the U.S. automaker.
Isuzu had a joint venture in Indiana with Fuji Heavy Industries
Ltd., the maker of Subaru automobiles, but withdrew in 2003, when
Fuji bought out Isuzu's share in the venture and became sole
operator of the plant.