Industrias Kaiser Argentina S.A. Kaiser Motors or IKA was an Argentine motor car company established in 1956 in Cordoba Province as a joint venture with Kaiser Motors of the United States.
The automaker produced a variety of Kaiser Jeep vehicles and American Motors (AMC) models, including Argentina's most iconic car, the Torino, before partnering with France's Renault, which bought it out in 1970.
In 1970 Kaiser Industries decided to exit the auto business and it sold the rest of its IKA holdings to its partner, Renault of France, thus ending the history of Argentina's indigenous automaker. The new enterprise focused on mass consumption models such as the Renault 12.
In 1975, the original factory in Santa Isabel changed from IKA to Renault Argentina S.A.
As of 2000, Daimler-Chrysler was building Cherokees and Grand Cherokees in Argentina.
Kaiser in Argentina
In 1951 Argentina sent their emissary, Brigadier Juan Ignacio San Martin, to the US to convince an auto manufacturer to build cars in Argentina. In 1954 Kaiser was the only one to accept the offer, with the remainder believing the market was too small to justify the investment. Also, they didn't have the rugged products Kaiser did. On January 19, 1955 Kaiser and the government of Argentina signed an agreement to permit Kaiser to manufacture automobiles and trucks in Argentina. In February, Kaiser created a wholly owned subsidiary named Kaiser Automotores, the holding company which in turn owned part of the newly created Industrias Kaiser Argentina S.A. (IKA), the manufacturing and marketing arm. Other partners in IKA included the government-owned vehicle manufacturer Industrias Aeronauticas y Mecanicas del Estado (IAME) and private investors. In August Kaiser applied for and received an import license to bring in 1,021 completed cars, manufacturing equipment and spare parts from the US. Groundbreaking for the new factory was in March 1955 with the first Jeep vehicle rolling out of the plant on 27 April 1956.
The new Argentine factory was built in the city of Santa Isabel in the province of Cordoba with the Kaiser Manhattan being rechristened the Kaiser Carabela — named after a type of Spanish sailing ship. The US vinyl and fabric interior was replaced with a more rugged leather interior, the speedometer was recalibrated in kilometers with the temperature, oil, and fuel gauge annotations in Spanish and the spring rates were increased to accommodate unimproved Argentine roads. Oddly, the dash castings with annotations for vent, heater, headlight and wiper controls remained in English. No consideration was given to offering an automatic transmission due to the anticipated difficulty in obtaining service in remote towns. Production started on the Carabela on 25 July 1958 and, in the remaining months of that year, 2,158 cars were built. IKA was also building Jeep vehicles at the Cordoba factory and assembled 20,454 Jeeps in 1958 alone. The combined Carabela-Jeep production of 22,612 units was 81% of all vehicles manufactured in Argentina in 1958 with the only competition being the state-run utility vehicle manufacturer IAME. Many have questioned the wisdom of building IKA automobile factory in remote Santa Isabel which was far from ports and transportation hubs but the primary reason is that Cordoba was General San Martin's home province and he had a close, influential relationship with President Juan Peron.
In 1962 the Carabela, the "Gran coche argentino" (the Great Argentine Car), ended production with some 15,000 cars assembled providing elegant transportation for the doctors, bankers and other notables in Argentina. The Carabela had some stable mates in 1960-62 in the form of an Alfa Romeo 1900 sedan derivative named the Bergantin (another type of Spanish sailing ship) and an Argentine-manufactured Renault Dauphine (badged IKA Dauphine). In 1962 Rambler variants licensed from AMC would replace all of these. The final form of the AMC variants was the potent Torino which saw a lot of racing on international circuits. Built until the early 1980s, the Torino was based on the 1964 Rambler American 2-door hardtop and 4-door sedan, but had its own engine, front and rear end styling, and a more European-styled interior. In 1970 Kaiser sold IKA to Renault.