There has been much written lately about a number of ‘glamour’ utes coming to Australia soon, with new technologies and fancier designs to accommodate people buying them as second family vehicles.
Vehicles falling into this category include the new Nissan Navara, and the forthcoming updated Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50. There’s also the imminent new Toyota HiLux and the rougher-around-the-edges but nevertheless more refined new Mitsubishi Triton cluttering up the light commercial market.
A the same time, while it may have nothing new to talk about model-wise, Isuzu Ute Australia continues to grow at a rapid pace that puts almost all others in the shade. We’ve written before about its burgeoning sales success here, but it’s high time for a revisit.
Isuzu Ute’s sister brand, Isuzu Trucks, has long been a market leader here, and this year it owns 21.6 per cent market share in the heavy commercial sector. But the brand is growing ever quicker elsewhere too.
The Japanese company's ute and SUV arm posted a record 16,674 registrations for the D-Max and MU-X last year, up 63.3 per cent. This year, it’s up an additional 31.8 per cent over this point in 2014, with 7552 units registered already.
Consider that Suzuki, with 8190 units YTD, is within sniffing distance, and you get some context. And Isuzu Ute is doing it with only two models.
Leading the charge is the D-Max 4x4 ute (which, we'd add, gets five-star ANCAP safety like most other dual cabs), with 4099 units registered, up 13.3 per cent. This puts it ahead of the Mazda BT-50 (3666), and Volkswagen Amarok (3316), though some way off the HiLux (10,172) and Ford Ranger (8558).
It’s also still shy of the 10.0 per cent market share target that Isuzu Ute Australia has been set by its Japanese parent, though 7.8 per cent share (as it sits currently) for a small brand with a relatively small dealer network is no mean feat.
Meanwhile, the D-Max 4x2 is the big mover this year, up 96.9 per cent to 1004 units, enough for 6.3 per cent share. This is not far off the locally-made Ford Falcon Ute, which has recorded 1135 units.
Much of this growth is down to the fact that some (but not all) D-Max 4x2s now score five ANCAP stars, opening the company up to more large-scale fleets.
The final piece in the Isuzu Ute puzzle is the MU-X SUV, with 2449 sales YTD, up 53.1 per cent. This cumulative total eclipses the Mitsubishi Pajero (2208) and Nissan Pathfinder (2261), and is more than three-times greater than the Holden Colorado 7 (879).
Whether Isuzu Ute can maintain the momentum as newer products emerge from rivals — the company has nothing all-new on the horizon — and trade on its rugged reputation remains to be seen, but as it stands, it’s clearly one of our market’s true success stories.