Isuzu (Wolseley A6) automobile debut, Tokyo, 1918.

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Introduction of the British-designed, Japanese-licensed Wolseley A6, November 1918. Isuzu, which had obtained rights to manufacture Wolseley automobiles in Japan soon thereafter, would begin manufacturing its own domestically-designed automobiles in Japan in 1922, with the introduction of the ‘Sumida’ model.

“[L]ittle attention seems to have been paid to links between the UK and Japanese motor vehicle industries , in particular those links through which British companies contributed to the development of the Japanese motor vehicle industry.

“One such set of links [was] between Wolseley Motors Limited and the Ishikawajima Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd., predecessor of Isuzu Motors Limited.

“The origin of Isuzu Motors, and the associated Hino Motors Limited, may be traced back to an agreement of 6 November 1918, under which the Ishikawajima company obtained the rights to manufacture and sell cars and trucks of Wolseley design from Wolseley Motors. Ishikawajima’s motor vehicle manufacturing division eventually became Isuzu Motors.

“… Ishikawajima was the first company to have entered into a formal agreement with an overseas company to manufacture motor vehicles in Japan, contrary to the claim made by Cusumano that Nissan was the first company to form such a link. In addition, the licensing agreement between Wolseley and Ishikawajima seems to have been one of the earliest examples of a British motor vehicle manufacturer licensing its technology abroad.

“… Isuzu [as a name] dates back to the 1916 merger between the Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding & Engineering Company and the Tokyo Gas & Electric Industry Company Limited.”

The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations 1600-2000, edited by J. Hunter & S. Sugiyama, 2001

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