It’s been two years since our June 2020 talk with Billy Tom, CEO and president of Isuzu Motors SA. Then, he was merely four days in the hot seat — he counts among leaders who kicked off their leadership stints in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic.
At the height of the pandemic Tom says they couldn’t even sell a single vehicle, but since then the company has launched three newcomers — the Isuzu M-UX SUV, the all-new seventh-generation D-Max bakkie and the Isuzu D-Max Gen — 6, the latter a lower-priced continuation model of the previous one-tonner range aimed at business use.
The SA automotive industry is on a positive curve after a cataclysmic 2020-2022 period marred by industry stoppages, the KZN riots, a global semiconductor shortage and now the Russia-Ukraine war.
The recovery of the local automotive industry is seen through 29,545 units sold in June 2022, representing a 20.6% increase compared with the same month in 2021. The numbers don’t tell the full story though as the recent KZN floods have wreaked havoc with Toyota SA’s production, while the automotive industry is battling with parts availability due to semiconductor shortages.
Isuzu sold 1,280 units of the D-Max locally in June 2022, making it the second best-selling bakkie after the Ford Ranger. The Eastern Cape-born CEO says the company’s market share for the D-Max has grown by 2% — but “Isuzu is a truck company which happens to sell bakkies,” Tom reminds us.
Though Toyota’s dominance of the LCV market is well documented, Isuzu rules the medium and heavy truck sectors. It was all-round good news for Isuzu as sales of the medium and heavy truck segments grew to 697 units (+1.5%) and 1,900 units (+9.2%) in June 2022.