New boss for Isuzu SA

Billy Tom 2

Hummer man now driving Isuzu. 

With positive investment sentiment from the Japanese parent company, Isuzu’s South African operations are now properly capitalised and looking to expand. Initial spend for the D-Max totals R1.2bn and the third-generation D-Max is expected here early next year. The current Isuzu plant in the Eastern Cape is also gearing up to produce the new D-Max, which is why the new model will only see the light of day in 2021 in SA.

There has been a leadership change at Isuzu South Africa as Michael Sacke has decided to leave his position. Sacke was an experienced GM employee, having spent time in Detroit. Educated at NMU, he had guided Isuzu since its independence from GM, in 2017.

Replacing Sacke is Billy Tom, who also has strong Eastern Cape education roots, having studied at Rhodes. Tom is no newcomer to the automotive industry, having previously established the GM premium vehicle business in South Africa, which launched Cadillac and the locally-produced Hummer, back in the late 2000s.

Unlike the case with Cadillac and Hummer, which were deeply cyclical models completely inappropriate for a multi-generational South African lifecycle, Isuzu is a very stable business. It will be interesting to see what Billy Tom does with bakkies, as CEO of Isuzu.

Where Tom could be of particular value to Isuzu, is coping with the new demands of a post-Covid automotive retailing business and customer experience. Tom has worked in banking and the beverage industries and could bring new techniques and customer insights to the business of selling bakkies.

Isuzu has potential advantages in the simplification of its South African business: consisting of bakkies, SUVs and trucks. Without having to bother with compact cars, luxury sedans or high-performance vehicles, Isuzu could potentially scale its resources most efficiently, at being a pure gravel travel and logistics solution brand.

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