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Japanese truck maker Isuzu freezes North America plant plan

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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 were uncertain.

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.

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Japanese truck maker Isuzu freezes North America plant plan
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