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Isuzu Ute’s new boss aims high

High-flier: Isuzu Ute’s new chief Yasuhiro Takeuchi brings a broad range of experience to the role, including work for the Japanese government’s defence establishment.

Sky’s the limit for Isuzu Ute in Oz, says its rocket scientist MD

23 Aug 2011

ISUZU Ute Australia’s new managing director, Yasuhiro ‘Yasu’ Takeuchi, is on a mission to double the company’s vehicle sales in the next few years.

The former aeronautics engineer who once worked on missiles for Mitsubishi Corporation’s Aerospace Division will be looking to Isuzu’s new D-Max ute – due in the first half of 2012 – and, potentially, a seven-seat wagon derived from the ute, to achieve the sales targets set by Isuzu head office.

Despite stock shortages caused by parts shortages that slowed production of the current D-Max at Isuzu’s plant in Thailand, IUA is on target to achieve 6500 sales this year – a 21 per cent increase over last year’s 5114 units.

If it achieves that figure by December 31, Isuzu will have already almost doubled its volumes in Australia since 2009, when it sold 3566 vehicles in its first full year of sales.

Mr Takeuchi, who takes over the reins from founding managing director Hitoshi Kono next month, said he was confident of doubling Isuzu’s sales, thanks in part to the work done by Mr Kono in “establishing a stable and expandable dealer network in Australia and building a strong brand”.

 center imageLeft: Isuzu D-Max LE III. Below: Isuzu MU-7.

He said the next D-Max and the possibility of a new model would help his cause, and he boldly said he would like to see annual sales of 20,000-plus with the new D-Max and the proposed wagon variant.

IUA has set up 83 dealers here since Mr Kono and his deputy Takeshi Kasahara arrived in Australia to build the brand from scratch.

IUA general managing of sales and dealer development Paul Vuko said sales this year had been affected by component supply restrictions after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March.

He said IUA was only now getting over a couple of lean sales months due to the supply problems, with just 483 and 490 sales for June and July respectively.

Mr Vuko predicts a D-Max bounce back in August with 600-plus sales.

To help build sales, IUA has appointed four new staffers to its fleet sales team, and this is already starting to pay off with sales to the Australian Defence Force, Rio Tinto, Leightons and the Queensland Police Force.

Fleet and government sales account for only around 46 per cent of IUA’s sales, and Vuko says there is room to improve, particularly in the mining sector.

Mr Kono suggests that the company will find buyers for its new wagon model in the mines as well with drivers further up the management chain choosing a 4x4 wagon for their work and family car while workers at the coalface are in utes.

IUA is the 19th biggest seller of new vehicles in Australia after four years, placing it ahead of brands established much longer.

Mr Takeuchi comes to IUA from a stint in Tokyo as deputy general manager with Mitsubishi Corporation’s Isuzu Business Division where he was heavily involved in Isuzu’s business facilities in Thailand – home of D-Max ute production.

He holds a degree in aeronautics, and previously worked with Mitsubishi Corp’s Aerospace Division working on defence related product including missile systems.

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