MUSICAL UTE CHAIRS
Mazda-Isuzu tie-up clouds future links, JOSHUA DOWLING writes
ONE mystery has been solved and another created.
Mazda will partner with Isuzu for its next generation ute — due in 2020 — but it is unclear what the future holds for the Isuzu-based Holden Colorado.
Following Mazda’s shock split Ford which it has had a partnership more than 30 years it has confirmed will jointly develop
next BT-50 with commercial vehicle specialist Isuzu.
It means the all-new Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max share the same underpinnings engines but will likely have distinct bodies.
The revelation explains why so few changes were made to BT-50 for its most recent update last year — when only the headlights, grille and tail-lights changed at a time
Ford Ranger came in for significant upgrades.
While gained world-first technology compact pick-ups, such as lane-keeping assistance and radar cruise control, as well a new turbocharger, new injectors, electric power steering, a
dash body from the windscreen forward, Mazda BT-50 remained untouched in those areas from when it was launched 2011.
The current generation BT-50 is expected to be built jointly owned Ford-Mazda factory in Thailand until late 2019, when it will phased out and replaced by a version of the next Isuzu D-Max.
The news of the tie-up was so top secret representatives from in Australia had no idea deal had been signed.
A statement Mazda issued this week said two companies “have reached a basic agreement on nextgeneration pick-up truck collaboration, allowing Isuzu to enhance its product competitiveness and Mazda to strengthen its product line-up and maintain own-brand market coverage”.
The statement said Isuzu would produce the vehicle for Mazda at its factory in Thailand that it be based on Isuzu’s next generation D-Max.
While there was speculation might partner with Toyota and build a version of the HiLux (Mazda uses Toyota’s hybrid system builds small car for overseas), Isuzu has been making Mazda trucks for the Japanese market past 10 years.
“This agreement reinforces continuous long-term relationship between and Isuzu,” statement says.
Fellow maker Isuzu is the pick-up market leader in developing countries the Asia-Pacific region.
However, is outsold by Toyota, Ford, Holden, Mitsubishi and Nissan in Australia.
All industry eyes will be on the new partnership because the Mazda BT-50 is currently a derivative of Ford Ranger — No.2 seller in Australia
whereas Isuzu D-Max is secondlast of the mainstream utes local sales, narrowly ahead BT-50.
The Mazda BT-50 has been a sales disaster, selling at less than half the rate Ford Ranger since latest models went on sale in 2011, despite initially being identical under sheet metal.
Mazda dealers say buyers have not warmed to the swoopy BT-50 styling, which was meant bring passengercar appeal its workhorse but ended up polarising opinion.
It is unclear at this stage what the Mazda-Isuzu deal means for Isuzu’s partnership with General Motors and the Holden Colorado.
The current Colorado Isuzu D-Max utes share the same chassis and were originally developed side-by-side (although made in separate Thailand factories) before a rift developed and each brand elected to go their own way with diesel engines.
But in 2013 Isuzu General Motors issued a statement saying they had “signed memorandum of understanding to begin talks on the potential joint development nextgeneration pick-up trucks”.
Representatives from Holden and Isuzu said it was too early determine what the Mazda-Isuzu tie-up meant for GM-Isuzu deal. The current Mazda BT-50
D-Max utes will likely remain on sale in their guise until 2019, by which time they be long overdue
replacement and surrounded much newer competition.
Holden is about to launch an updated version of its Colorado ute ahead an all-new model due by 2020.