Japan's Isuzu Motors Ltd. on Nov. 2 announced it will launch a seven-passenger large sport utility vehicle next year, built by its partner General Motors Corp. GM owns 49 percent of Isuzu. The 2003 Isuzu Ascender, to go into production in September 2002, will share many components with GM's long-wheelbase Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL, both of which are also scheduled to go on sale next year. The Ascender, to be built at GM's Moraine, Ohio plant, will be unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in late March, according to Chip Letzgus, executive manager of corporate communications. Isuzu didn't release price and expected sales volume for the new SUV. According to industry analysts, the addition of the Ascender should help Isuzu's sales, which are down more than nine percent this year despite the addition of the Axiom sport utility vehicle and the continuing popularity of SUVs. Isuzu expected to sell about 18,000 Axioms this year, but sales have totaled only about 4,000 since it went on sale in the spring.