Imagine launching a new brand and company right as the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) was about to start, that’s what Isuzu Ute had to deal with in Australia for the last 12 months.
Isuzu Ute, which sells the D-Max range of light-commercial utes has survived the toughest times and is ready to expand its market share.
In its first month of operations, Isuzu only sold 50 Utes, last month it managed its best result with 339 D-Maxs sold.
The company invited a group of automotive journalists to celebrate the brand’s one-year anniversary in Australia and discuss the future of the company.
Currently Isuzu has 62 approved dealers around Australia which is set to expand to 70 next year and 80 by 2012.
Regardless of the GFC, the light commercial ute segment enjoyed its best month in Australian history this year in June despite massive stock shortages as a result of the government incentive fuelled sales boom.
Queensland remains the most popular state for the D-MAX (Isuzu’s Australian operations are based in Brisbane) with 27 per cent share, closely followed by NSW on 25.5 and Victoria on 22 per cent.
As expected, the most popular D-MAX variants have been the top of the range crew cab utes, both the 4×4 LS-U (15%) and its near-identical 4×2 LS stablemate (13%) have led the charge.
Isuzu plans to sell over 5,000 utes in 2010 with its sights set primarily on increasing its share of the fleet and government market. Currently about 64 per cent of Isuzu D-Max sales are to private buyers with 34 per cent to fleet and 2 per cent to government, in comparison 72 per cent of Toyota Hilux sales are to fleet buyers with only 18 per cent private.
Isuzu has big plans in Australia and there is no reason to doubt their intentions, next month the company will celebrate its one million D-Max sale in Thailand.
Ryoji Yamazaki, the General Manager of Isuzu International Department told journalists that the important victory is not the 1 millionth sale but rather that the celebrated D-Max will sell for a higher price than the Toyota Hilux in Thailand, showcasing the brand’s reputation in such a massive ute market.
Asked about the addition of ESP to the utes, Richard Power, Isuzu Ute Australia’s public relations manager said that technologically it’s something that Isuzu could do tomorrow but is currently waiting for the right time.
The Japanese company, which is owned by Mitsubishi, also leaked potential plans that it may bring out an Isuzu SUV in the future. A D-Max based Isuzu SUV, called the MU7, is already offered in Thailand.
However the company will for now concentrate primarily on the D-Max range in Australia.
The D-Max ute is powered by a torquey 3.0-litre common-rail, variable-vane turbo-diesel engine with 360 Nm at 1800-2800 rpm, 120 kW peak power at 3200rpm and ADR 81/02 fuel economy rating of 8.1litres/100km.
With 13 models in the range, Isuzu D-Max pricing starts from $24,900 to $44,200 (plus on-road costs).