Update 1: GM-Isuzu Duramax Diesel Joint Venture At Risk?

Report: GM-Isuzu Duramax Diesel Joint Venture At Risk?

Could General Motors go it alone building Duramax diesel engines for its Heavy Duty pickups instead of with manufacturing partner Isuzu Motors, Ltd?

Isuzu President Susumu Hosoi said he's seeking talks with GM to review the companies' joint venture DMAX, Ltd. factory, where Duramax engines are produced in Morraine, Ohio, and that ending joint production “may be an option,” according to a report by Bloomberg.

Hosoi is concerned that the market for large diesel-powered trucks may not recover to levels seen earlier in the decade, when fuel prices were lower and the U.S. economy was booming.

The timing of Hosoi's comments might seem unusual but they're not wholly unexpected.

The DMAX facility escaped GM's plant closure list when the company was reorganizing under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection during last spring and summer. Although GM decided to end production of its slow selling medium-duty trucks, its Heavy Duty Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups are set to receive a major update for the 2011 model year, including the introduction of the new 'LML' 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 diesel engine.

The LML Duramax is compliant with tough new federal emissions regulations that take effect on Jan. 1, 2010. In 2007, GM invested $69 million in the DMAX plant to build the new engine.

Why would Isuzu consider ending the partnership now? Isuzu's value in the program may be rapidly dwindling.

Aside from substantial ownership and financial considerations -- GM owns 60% of DMAX and Isuzu the rest -- going separate ways would likely have little effect on GM's future heavy-duty diesel engines.

In 2000, Isuzu and GM started joint production of the first 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engines for GM's 2001 Heavy Duty pickups. GM teamed with Isuzu to tap Isuzu's diesel engineering strengths to help GM become a major player in HD pickups. GM's earlier 6.2-liter and 6.5-liter diesel engines were widely considered to be noncompetitive vs. Ford's Navistar-sourced Power Stroke and Chrysler's Cummins-built diesel engines.

By 2002, GM had 30 percent diesel pickup market share, up from approximately 5% in1999.

But in the middle of the decade, things started to change in the DMAX partnership. In April 2006, GM sold its 7.9% stake in Isuzu for $300 million. That sale opened up an opportunity for Toyota to acquire 5.9% of Isuzu, in a bid to bolster Toyota's diesel engine knowledge.

In June 2007, GM introduced an all-new 4.5-liter Duramax V-8 diesel engine that was slated for use in GM's light-duty pickups before falling truck sales and rising fuel prices caused GM to indefinitely postpone its arrival in March 2009.

What was notable about the so-called 'baby' Duramax -- aside from its advanced architecture and layout -- was that it was 100% designed by GM and would have been built without Isuzu's involvement. Charlie Freese and Gary Arvan, GM's senior engineers responsible for designing the 4.5-liter V-8, are two of the brightest diesel engineers on the planet and both men still work for the company.

Today, unless Isuzu helps engineer the LML's replacement, there seems to be little value for Isuzu to hang on to its share of the joint venture. GM has proven that it has the in-house knowledge to build advanced diesel engines without Isuzu's help.

"The new Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel (LML) is being fully engineered within GM," said GM powertrain spokesman Tom Read. "GM has an very capable diesel engineering team, with extensive resources and capability both in the U.S and globally, to handle the engineering task."

A diesel partnership breakup isn't without recent precedent. Ford and Navistar ended their 30-year diesel manufacturing relationship in January. Ford's all-new 2011 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 diesel was designed and engineered entirely in-house and is set to start production soon at one of Ford's engine plants in Mexico.

The ending of the DMAX partnership could be one of the final chapters in a long history of mutual cooperation between GM and Isuzu that started in 1971, when GM first invested in the Japanese company. And it could be the start of an entirely new chapter for GM's diesel powertrain program.

[Source: Bloomberg]


Update #1 Dec-22-2009 7:50 am Pacific:
Added quote from GM powertrain spokesman Tom Read. Corrected reference that the LML Duramax was jointly developed with Isuzu. GM designed and engineered the LML engine without Isuzu's assistance.


Well, GM should be able to go it alone. Ford has managed to pull it off, mind you the jury is still out on that one, but time will tell.

@ Greg, I couldn't have said that better...

I think Ford and GM should have no problem standing on their own when it comes to their diesels. Most people didn't buy a Powerstroke because it was International, or a Duramax because it was Isuzu.

The only one that would really have a major problem if they had to go at it alone would be Dodge (Ram?). Sure, they could use Fiat diesels, but Cummins is really what sells their trucks.

Isuzu isn't thinking of getting out of the relationship because the diesel pickup market is good. Nope, it's the exact opposite., it's hard to sell these things like the good ole' days. I don't see new diesel pickups on the road these days. Ford is looking for a partner in their new PSD for the same reason - they know they will lose money if they don't.

Ford and GM put all their eggs in the big displacement diesel engine basket and it's no longer a viable money maker.

Time to wake and build smaller, more fuel efficient diesel pickup engines. The question is which second or third tier pickup manfacturer would consider a ginormous displacement diesel engine? I bet none.

I think GM could do it on there own. Before they sold of alot of the companies, they had Detroit Diesel and EMD (Electro-Motive Diesel). I think they have the know how.

I believe a market exists now for downsized pickups with smaller diesel engines. If GM revamped the Colorado and offered both direct injection gasoline/ethanol flex fuel engines and their baby duramax it should sell well. Hardcore truck guys will stay with the big rigs but a substantial market exists where no such macho outlook previals and a more realistic evaluation of need would drive sales of a competent, smaller, more fuel efficient, lower cost truck that is easily garageable and easy to park in the city.

I agree with the comments on smaller diesel engines.

I mean, sure, you still need to offer the big diesels for 1 ton+ trucks, however a diesel that would fit in everything from cars to 3/4 ton trucks would make a lot of sense.

I mean, think about it, a diesel like GM's 4.5L or Fords 4.4L could be used in pony cars like the Mustang/Camaro/Challenger, full size RWD cars, mid size pickups, 1/2 ton pickups, 3/4 ton pickups, maybe even 1 ton pickups; as well as medium size SUVs, full size SUVs, extended wheelbase full size SUVs, as well as commercial vans/chassis cabs. It would be possible to share the same engine among an entire fleet, which is great for larger businesses.

If you could the same engine in just about everything, it would help to keep the manufacturing cost low (which is a problem with the larger diesels), not to mention the exact same vehicle could be sold both in the United States and abroad with minimal changes. It's pretty much win-win.

diesel still get better MPG than gassers, and it puts out more torque, if you need to move heavy equipment or trailers you're going to need diesels! I can't believe that GM is killing Kodiak's and topkicks. They're the best selling mid-size trucks out there. It looks like Freightliner and international will be the only choice out there now. SAD

i think it would be awsome if gm signed a contract with cat diesel and used a cat engine

Truth is Cat couldn't be bothered to design/redesign a new engine for the numbers they'd sell on a 3/4 or 1 ton. No way to justify the costs.

Heck Ford/GM can't hardly justify the enw diesels they are just coming out with. Thing is they had committed before everything changed 12-18 months ago. That and they don't want to hand over that market share to the other guys that easily. The engiens are here and they'll try to figure a way to become profitable. Look at Ford with their new diesel, they would love to to sell it to others...

Wow GM, looks like Izusu saved your A$$ back then. Why don't you go about it alone, now that FORD has.



Please no. I don't want a Loud, Coal Burning, diesel in my SS Camaro or Cobra Mustang. No thanks

I hate to say this but thats one ugly Truck. I don't think they can do alone since they did with those 6.2 or 6.5 mickey mouse diesel. They were terrible.. But I know time have past so hopefully they can. By the way I own a Chevy Truck a 99 model so I don't need any bad mouthin... LOL

Well there are not as many new diesel now due to the emission levels that thay have to meet. I bought a 04 2500 ram diesel because no emission crap on it. Now with the new emission level the cost of them went up with the cost of urea; that Ford and Gm has to run in it drives the cost up on them and you will be better off buying an older one. The new ones arent worth it anymore. They need to take note from europe weres the are diesel power colorados, rangers cars and vans. The first company that brings a diesel to the half-ton and small trucks market will win GM think about it


You are wrong about the only reason people buying Dodge it because of the Cummins. I'm sure a lot of people buy Dodge HDs because they dont like Ford or Chevy HDs.

BTW, thinking that Ford's or GM's Chasis/Bodies is any better then Dodges, is just plain ignorant.

Sometimes supidity runs rampit on these posts. Please don't spread it.

You are right Cola.. I currently drive a 2007.5 GMC duramax crew cab short box to pull my toys and 12000 lb trailer on backroads. I have decided to buy a 2010 Ram 3500 Cummins not only for the durable engine. The main reason was that dodge doesn't have to run Urea fluid(yet), secondly was the awesme new interior/exterior design of the Ram HD. I do love my duramax but every three years i get a new truck and Dodge won me over this time.

once dodge starts cranking more power out of th 6.7 it will need urea with the new emmisions. you dont think they would leave it at the same power rating w/ ford and gm making alot more power do you? then again I would consider less power w/o the extra emissions.

So if the Isuzu/GM partnership was called DMax, then what will the company be called after their split? ..... D Minus.... LOL.

mikeoxlong, Yes Ford and GM are putting out yet even higher horsepower/torque ratings again and that is awesome that they sell a stock Diesel HD truck that can keep up with a Camaro SS (in a straight line,no corners up to 100MPH) for those that want a race truck. The only problem with too much is reliability of engine and drivetrain from so much stress. For reliable and more than enouph power 350 horse and 650 FT/LB torque is all needed to tow and haul even the largest of trailers/fifth wheels ect. MY `05 LLY dmax had 300 hp and 610 ft/lb torque and handled my trailer effortlessly .My current 07 LMM with 365hp and 660 ft/lb torque Has more than needed but runs hotter Exhaust temps under hard pull and uses more fuel than '05 LLY due to the regeneration prosses of the LMM to clean out DPF which is similar to the current Cummins adsorber system that uses heat to clean system. The reason i like the Cummins this year is that i know it has plenty of pulling power and Cummins has had three years behind their emission system and have had time to work out some bugs(there were a few). GM and Ford(not that i would get a Ford) have a new system on their hands that is higher maintenance and new to the techs that have to deal with it(myself being one of them), also where i live there is still nowhere to buy Urea Fluid. Once the emission systems are proven and reliable I can see myself getting another Duramax in three years when i decide on the next Rig for me.

No reason for Isuzu to stay in DMAX. They don't use the 6.6L in any of their own trucks. I see fewer sales for diesel pickups in the future. They are getting too expensive, maintenance headaches, poor fuel economy. Sure, some will still buy them, but for many diesel doesn't make sense anymore.

that chevy pictured is so ugly.

Hey Fred,

It would be called DMin.

Well first of all Ken where are you?
I see lots of new C badged Dodges, brand spankin new Sierras and Silverados with the Duramax badge(it's on the hood now)
Plenty of folks are lined up for the new SD.

I fully agree with getting out the smaller diesels. Hopefully GM is going to use the 4.5 soon. I hope it was just on hold for bankruptcy.
Ford refuses to come out with the 4.4 because they think it will hurt Super duty sales.

I know plenty of folks who'd love to have a smaller Diesel in a half ton truck. Whoever does it FIRST will make a killing.

Where I live in AZ the list of most popular/new to least popular would be ford, dodge, gm. I rarely see a new gm while i see tons of new fords and several rams. What the market is loosing are all the people who bought HD trucks to look cool. Now that fuel is more expensive and the trucks are more expensive those days are gone. Here is Tucson with all the ranches diesle will live on

GM doesnt have the cash flow to "go it alone" so they desperately cannot let this partnership fail. What are they going to do as plan B revive the old 6.5 from the graveyard?

GM going it alone on diesel engines? Here comes an ugly reminder of what happens with the bean counters at GM have their way with a diesel: the unreliable 5.7L Oldsmobile Diesel. Plagued by poor fuel filtration and dirty fuel of the day.

Then there was the parts hungry 6.2L diesel. Great MPG but you could buy a tanker truck of premium gasoline for some of the replacement parts the engine needed.

Even the early Duramax engines had their troubles. But no where near as bad as the 5.7 and 6.2's.

I am sure the trust will have to be earned for a tightwad bean counter ruled company like GM to go it alone on a diesel engine.

Much easier to sell a complicated diesel engine when the automaker has partnered with a reputable diesel engine builder. Look at the success the Cummings brought the 3rd class Dodge pickups.

I say GM should continue with the D-max until its planned phase-out, and by then sign up with either Cummins or Cat as a power supplier for their diesel line.

they could partner with Mahindra, ditch the ugly Hindu body work an put a Colorado body on it. bang - instant hit. Maybe they could trade Saab for Mahindra's trucks. Ha Ha Ha

I have a 2003 Dmax long bed crew cab. Recently drove from southern Oregon to St. George BC canada. My GMC got 23.7 miles per gallon on the trip! It has 105,000 miles on the rig and I have had only one problem with the injection system. I am interested in finding out what the mileage will be on the new combination of the LML engine and the new Allison 6 speed.


That is an impressive number. I could only dream of that kind of mileage with my 2005 H.D. HEMI short-bed Quad Cab 4X4 with 70,000 miles. I am lucky to get a tick over 16 m.p.g. at a hair-pulling 65-70 m.p.h.

Ford now owned Cummings for all u ram fans LOL Dodge. will never figure out diesel


I think GM should listen to the consumer and offer Caterpillar as an upgradeable option to the Duramax. It's a competition out there. I always loved Chevy pick ups and I will only buy a Chevy.

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