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Isuzu is on track for 135 dealers by 2004

Ninety dealers have been recruited by Isuzu importer International Motors (IM Group) as the company strives to grow its network on the back of a new pick-up.

The network is expected to grow further next year, from 80 to 135 sites. An aggressive advertising campaign that ran in AM has helped create a bank of 25 serious prospects, which IM Group will visit next year. The company says interest has come from many different types of franchised dealer, including passenger car sites, light commercial centres and 4x4 specialists.

Entry costs to the franchise have been slashed and IM expects dealers to display interior signage and a static vehicle, as well as carry a demonstrator and train staff. The group wants to increase coverage to drive forward sales of its new Rodeo pick-up, which went on sale in November, adding to a range which includes the TF pick-up.

Powered by a new 3.0-litre diesel engine developing 128bhp, prices for the Rodeo start at £11,537. Competition includes the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200 and Nissan Navara, but Isuzu hopes the Rodeos' 12,000-mile service interval will give it an advantage over the competition.

UK pick-up sales are at an all-time high, with demand for double-cabs fuelling growth. In the first nine months of this year, sales are up from 15,750 to 21,455 over the same period last year.

Isuzu expects dealers to sell 3500 Rodeo's next year and hopes to expand the range by adding a series of special editions next year.

The company has already signed up six former dealers as authorised repairers to help service its growing vehicle parc.

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