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Isuzu Reportedly Advancing to Buy GM Truck Plant

February 06, 2009

DETROIT Despite reports that General Motors Corp. may sell a division that produces work trucks to Isuzu Motors Ltd., the manufacturer said no decision has yet been made.

On Jan. 29, GM released a statement saying "it is continuing to operate the medium-duty business as it has in the past, including providing sales, service and marketing support to GM dealers for its medium duty trucks. While GM is assessing various strategic options for the business, no decisions have been reached and there are no details to share at this time."

Bloomberg reported that Local 598 Chairman Mark Hawkins said the United Auto Workers agreed to allow the transfer of the Flint, Mich., unit if talks are successful, citing a UAW letter about the talks. The Flint Journal also reported the Isuzu UAW letter on Jan. 29. Isuzu would keep making so-called medium-duty trucks at the factory for at least five more years under a plan being discussed, Hawkins said.

The plant employs about 525 hourly workers and produced about 22,000 trucks last year, according to a GM spokesperson cited by Bloomberg.

GM is trying to cut labor and debt costs and sell assets to prove its viability to the U.S. Treasury and keep the $13.4 billion in pledged government loans needed to stay in business. Under the agreement closed with GM on Dec. 31, Treasury provided the automaker $4 billion of the loan immediately and then funded an additional $5.4 billon on Jan. 16. The remaining $4 billion is scheduled to be provided to the automaker on Feb. 17, subject to GM meeting certain conditions and funds being available to Treasury to purchase troubled assets under section 115(a) of the EESA. To protect taxpayers, the agreement requires GM to use these funds to become financially viable and includes other binding terms.

Navistar, of Warrenville, Ill., agreed in December 2007 to buy the unit, which makes the Chevrolet Kodiak and GMC TopKick work vehicles commonly used as dump trucks and cargo haulers. That deal expired in August, and GM has said it's still studying options including a sale. GM and Isuzu jointly make diesel engines in the U.S. and Poland.  

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