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Joe Isuzu: We're Out of US Market, Honest

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

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For once in his life, Joe Isuzu -- the famous fib-telling pitchman -- is telling the truth: The Japanese company is pulling out of the US car market.

The decision will take effect in a year and marks the end of a 27-year run at American car buyers. Isuzu (ISUZY) says it will concentrate on commercial trucks - a more promising market in the US and overseas.

South Korea's Daewoo withdrew from the US market in 2002.

Isuzu was an innovator and one of the first to offer SUVs, including the Rodeo and the Trooper.

Last year, Isuzu's auto sales dwindled to a paltry 7,100 out of the 16.1 million new vehicles sold in the US. There will be no immediate relief in sight for automakers in the sour economy, especially when Enterprise Rental Car is cutting back on car purchases in response to weakening demand at the nation's airports. Enterprise, which also markets under the National and Alamo brands, typically buys about 800,000 new vehicles a year.

Isuzu expects to spend about $37 million to get out of the US auto market, including termination fees paid to franchised dealers.

Few will miss Isuzu cars, but Joe - well, he was a stroke of genius, and belongs in the Advertising Hall of Fame.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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