Isuzu Motors believes light commercial vehicles will drive the growth of the rural economy as they can help farmers access the markets directly.

The Japanese automobile manufacturer, which started its operations in India last year, has two products in the market – a pick-up truck (DMAX) and a sports utility vehicle (MU-7).

The company is keen to push its pick-up truck, in the LCV category, in the rural markets.

According to Shigeru Wakabayashi, Deputy Managing Director, Isuzu Motors India, farm owners are like entrepreneurs who are increasingly using LCVs to transport goods themselves. They reach the market directly and set the prices themselves, instead of depending on intermediaries, he says.

Though the economy and the commercial vehicle sector is going through a slump, light pick-up trucks will continue to grow, says Wakabayashi.

Isuzu plans to target the rural areas by expanding its dealership network to tier-III cities. It now has two sales outlets in Coimbatore and Hyderabad.

The company will have 10 outlets by December with many of them in smaller cities and towns. Chennai will have its first dealership in a couple of months to be operated by Kun, which now runs a Hyundai dealership.

Currently, Isuzu’s products are imported from Thailand. The company recently signed a manufacturing contract with Hindustan Motors (HM) to assemble its products at HM’s facility in Thiruvallur, near Chennai. Manufacturing will begin by December; it will produce 300-500 units a month.

Isuzu is setting up its own manufacturing plant at Sri City, Andhra Pradesh. The Rs 1,500-crore plant is expected to start operations by 2016.