Isuzu develops an Australian accent

June 19, 2019

With the demise of local manufacturing, there aren’t too many car companies which have Australian tastes at the forefront of their minds when creating new vehicles. But Isuzu Ute is the exception.

Australia is easily the company’s biggest export market, accounting for 37 per cent of vehicles shipped from its Thailand manufacturing plant in 2018. So what we want makes a difference to Isuzu — and the company is eager to listen.

It has regularly sought owner feedback via its dealers and its popular i-Venture off-road days and has been happy to implement changes to better suit our needs. It’s even made components just for us, including the current 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo- diesel engine which is in Australian vehicles, but found nowhere else.

Given Isuzu is currently making the next-generation D-Max ute — which will also be the new Mazda BT-50 — it means Australia could get a big say in the vehicle which ends up on sale around the world. Not that Isuzu execs were giving anything away at the D-Max and MU-X SUV update launch in Torquay, Victoria this week. Any questions remotely relating to the new vehicle were rebuffed with some variation of “We can’t talk about it”, usually with a wry grin.

However, they did take time to stress Australia was a “strategically important market” and Isuzu would continue to invest heavily here. Interestingly, deputy general manager of sales Ben Jaeger said this wouldn’t necessarily apply to its dealer network.

Isuzu dealers have grown from 38 in 2008 to 153 now and while there are more to come, Jaeger said the brand wanted to maintain a profitable and sustainable network. It’s quite a show of restraint from a brand which has mostly overachieved since arriving in Australia in 2008.

Despite having only two models, it is the 13th biggest seller here — ahead of the likes of Audi, BMW and Land Rover. Sales have grown every year, but Isuzu hasn’t escaped the new car industry’s torrid start to 2019 with sales down 4.4 per cent. It’s unfamiliar territory, however the brand says with the updated 2019 models hitting showrooms it still expects its sales to grow 3 per cent this year.


Article by Sam Jeremic.