Mazda and Isuzu announce ute deal

Mazda has announced that its next-generation BT-50 ute will be based on the next Isuzu D-Max, signalling a shift away from a long-running arrangement with Ford.
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The two Japanese companies today announced a “basic agreement” that will see Isuzu produce the next generation of Mazda utes, based on Isuzu’s pickup model.

The newly minted (tentative) deal between Mazda and Isuzu will “allow… Isuzu to enhance its product competitiveness and Mazda to strengthen its product line-up and maintain own-brand market coverage”.

In other words, Isuzu will get greater scale and therefore be able to spend more keeping the next D-Max modern, while Mazda will be able to remain strong in core markets, again including Australia.

2016 Single-cab ute comparison Isuzu D-Max SX Mazda BT-50 XT Mitsubishi Triton GLX Nissan Navara DX Toyota HiLux Workmate-257

Mazda executives have always said that the only way it could make a ute such as the BT-50 viable was to use another brand’s architecture.

The current-generation — and previous-generation — Mazda BT-50 and Bravo ute models have been based on Ford architectures, with the current car a vestige of the two brands’ long former association, and largely developed for the globe right here in Australia.

Mazda and Ford are also partners in an AutoAlliance plant in Thailand that makes the BT-50 and Ranger models for markets including Australia.

The deal announced today means Mazda and Ford will surely break ties.

2016 Single-cab ute comparison Isuzu D-Max SX Mazda BT-50 XT Mitsubishi Triton GLX Nissan Navara DX Toyota HiLux Workmate-223

As we have previously reported, such a Mazda break from Ford had been tipped before, but the new Mazda partner was speculated to be Toyota, a brand with which Mazda has a separate commercial deal.

Mazda and Isuzu have developed a collaborative relationship for more than 10 years, with Isuzu producing for Mazda trucks for the Japanese market.

The deal also continues the trend of big car-makers sharing platforms. As we know, Renault and Mercedes-Benz are making utes spun off the Nissan NP300 Navara, a model which is also tipped to be the platform source for the next Mitsubishi Triton.

Whether this opens the door for a rugged Mazda 4x4 off-roader wagon based on the next Isuzu MU-X remains to be seen, though it didn't elect to make a car based on the Ford Everest...

It's also unclear what this means for the next-generation GM (Holden) Colorado, which currently shares key components with the D-Max.