Isuzu to Build Pickups for Mazda – The Next Chapter in a 100-year Saga

By Steve & Tamami Laser

According to the old adage, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.” This rings true in the international market for midsize pickups. For example, we recently reported on the launch of the Fiat Fullback, which is a Mitsubishi pickup with an Italian accent. Then there’s the Renault Alaskan, a spinoff of the Nissan NP300 Navara. Today comes word from Hiroshima and Fujisawa Japan about the latest product sharing plans between Mazda and Isuzu.

2015 Mazda BT-50 range.Here’s a look at the current Mazda BT-50 sold in Australia fitted with accessories.

In a brief press release, the automakers said that Mazda Motor Corporation and Isuzu Motors Limited have reached a basic agreement on next-generation pickup truck collaboration, allowing Isuzu to enhance its product “competitiveness” and Mazda to strengthen its product line-up and maintain its own brand market coverage.

IsuzuDMAX1And here’s a look at the current Isuzu D-MAX from the UK, in a special edition called “Centurion” to celebrate Isuzu’s 100th anniversary.

“Isuzu will produce next-generation pickups for Mazda, based on Isuzu’s pickup truck model,” the companies announced. Mazda and Isuzu have developed a collaborative relationship for more than a decade, with Isuzu producing Mazda trucks for the Japanese market. However, those vehicles are not in the midsize pickup segment.

2015 Mazda BT-50 range.The current Mazda BT-50 is related to the international version of the Ford Ranger.

The press release concludes stating that the new models will be sold “worldwide…except North America,” which means that those of us in the U.S. are out of luck. Isuzu wrapped up sales of light pickups and SUVs in the U.S. several years ago (while its commercial truck business continues to thrive). Mazda is apparently in no rush to get back into the midsize pickup market in North America.

The current Mazda and Isuzu trucks are built in Thailand, a huge market for pickups and a powerhouse for pickup exports worldwide. The Isuzu D-MAX is quite popular all over the globe. Let’s take a look at the D-MAX sold in the UK.

D-Max_Centurion_1The D-MAX Centurion Special Edition (above) was introduced earlier this year in the UK to mark 100 years since the company set up operations in Japan. Billed as the “best-equipped D-Max ever to be available on sale in the UK,” the automatic transmission, double-cab Centurion is trimmed with sophisticated features and limited to just 100 units. Isuzu UK says the Centurion employs the stout D-MAX 2.5-liter twin-turbo diesel engine, producing 163 PS and 400 Nm of torque.

Product features and specifications are subject to change without notice by the automakers.

News sources: Mazda Motor Corp., Isuzu Motors Limited, Mazda Australia, Isuzu (UK) Limited. Photos courtesy of Mazda Australia and Isuzu (UK) Limited. 

Story (commentary) © 2016