STATE OF INNOVATION: ISUZU LOOKS TO FUTURE
The competitive landscape of Australian road transport is well documented and is regarded with no small national pride by all involved.
Not only does the healthy competition of the industry (and the resulting efficiencies) provide justification to hold heads high when the going gets tough—the COVID-19 pandemic as a case in point—it hones a keen edge on the innovation of product and services by key players.
Going further than simply a case of ‘one-upmanship’ on the competition, this innovation, whether it be more effective automation, transport management or tracking, inevitably means better outcomes for company, customer and the robustness of the industry as a whole.
Australia’s forefront market
Enjoying the rivalry of Australia’s commercial vehicle market, Isuzu Trucks has been one of the proud players to dig into the culture of innovation for the benefit of customers and the broader industry.
“The Australian commercial vehicle market is globally considered to be a frontline for innovation, driven by our heavy reliance here on road transport and the resulting competitiveness of major manufacturers of commercial vehicles,” commented Grant Cooper, Chief of Strategy at Isuzu Australia Limited.
“Isuzu has proudly led the market for over three decades with products and services highly regarded by customers engaged in many various applications and trades, and with our trucks trusted to take care of their needs and businesses.
“We will continue to grow this history of trust and approach our product design and development using rigorous Japanese methods and our enduring spirit of ‘Isuzu Monozukuri’, or manufacturing, which is constantly evolving to drive our brand into the future.”
Roots in the past, breaking new ground
Founded in 1916, Isuzu is considered the oldest automobile manufacturer in Japan, with the origins of the company name stemming from the five ‘Isuzu’ rivers that flow near the sacred Ise Shrine.
From its embryonic roots manufacturing vehicles for Japan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Isuzu has evolved into a global company, supporting people in over 120 countries around the world with fit-for-purpose transport solutions.
A cornerstone to the brand’s success has been creating a systematised, quality-first manufacturing philosophy and production know-how, which Isuzu refers to as ‘Monozukuri’.
At the production stage, this means any vehicle bearing the Isuzu badge is expected to be produced with same manufacturing approach and quality control as found in the home-grown factories of Japan.
Mr Cooper breaks down the philosophy of Isuzu’s customer focused Monozukuri into two key elements:
- Development activities that create optimal vehicles that can be used by customers with peace of mind
- Quality management activities to continuously improve the quality of vehicles after they are sold
“With these two key elements at the core of Isuzu Monozukuri, we make quality and customers our first priorities, with the larger aim of creating products and services that truly meet the needs of operators, and through this, contribute to society,” Mr Cooper said.
“This philosophy focuses on a model that is constantly revisable, reviewable and renewable in consultation with our customers, meaning we can pivot to meet future challenges and produce better versions of our products more efficiently as time passes.
“This ties into Isuzu’s enduring mission which has always been to support transportation in whatever form it needs to take.”
Rapid pace continues
With the auto industry moving quickly in directions previously never seen, particularly in terms of CASE—connectivity, autonomous, sharing and electrification of vehicles—and trends towards decarbonisation and uninterrupted logistics infrastructure accelerating, Isuzu’s Monozukuri philosophy is evolving at pace.
“The revolution of the road transport industry is well and truly upon us. As an international OEM, Isuzu is prioritising the shift to CASE and carbon neutral technologies to compete nimbly in a changing market,” noted Mr Cooper.
“Isuzu’s new mid-term business plan addresses many of these critical issues and states our goal of creating a full line-up of carbon neutral vehicles by 2040.
“To realise this goal, we move forward with aggressive initiatives in the CASE arena, including alliances with key industry partners and other commercial vehicle manufacturers to refine our capabilities.
“We almost move forward with the incredibly strong foundations of our customer centric Monozukuri philosophy providing the backbone for Isuzu’s product design and development lifecycle.
“And we’re seeing the fruits of this strategy coming to life—our EV concept vehicle being an illustrative example of how Isuzu is innovating for the times ahead.”
Isuzu’s light-duty EV concept vehicle arrived in Australia during early 2021, overshadowed by severe COVID-19 lockdowns in Melbourne and Sydney.
Nevertheless, this was the first time the concept truck ever left Japanese shores, speaking to our burgeoning interest in a fully electric vehicle well-suited to the task of last-mile delivery.
The EV concept truck was developed under the theme ‘Create with You’, aiming to put the customer at the front and centre of product development; a theme which also permeates Isuzu’s Monozukuri philosophy.
“The crux of the EV concept vehicle and its development is a collaborative, co-creative relationship between customer and manufacturer,” Mr Cooper commented.
“We know that by having customer as core part of the process we can create richer, more innovative products that perform in the environments they’re needed.
“We wanted this concept truck to be intensely examined, have opinions exchanged and discussion to take place around the technology and development for its use in the Australian market and we were very pleased to see this taking place, despite having to navigate tricky COVID-19 restrictions.
“Isuzu has a proud history here of working to transform road transport for the better and for our collective benefit—our EV vehicle certainly represents the next chapter in this endeavour.
To find out more about the EV, visit https://www.isuzu.com.au/news/ev/.