Isuzu Ute has clocked up 10 years in Australia, a decade in which it has gone from minnow to perennial over-achiever. In fact, we’re now the Thai-based company’s biggest export market.
It launched as a sales company in October 2008 after years of supplying Holden with Jackaroos and Rodeos. Sales ramped up, with double-digit growth achieved for nine consecutive years before ‘slowing’ to 8.8 per cent this year.
It’s now sold a tick over 140,000 units, comprising 107,332 D-Max utes and 32,752 MU-X SUVs total, and is currently the 13th biggest sales brand in the country. Over the decade it’s taken its dealer network from 38 sites to 140, many of which are in regional areas.
Considering how many 'new' brands struggle, this is quite a feat.
Timing isn’t quite everything, but it counts for a lot, and Isuzu Ute’s arrival coincided neatly with a major uplift in light commercial sales here, particularly in Queensland and WA.
It currently owns 13.2 per cent market share in the 4x2 ute class (third to the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger) and 7.4 per cent of the bigger 4x4 ute class (neck-and-neck with Nissan Navara in fifth place).
The MU-X SUV spinoff is also proving to be a hit, with more than 6500 registered this year alone, convincingly ahead of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (4920) and Ford Everest (4104), and more than double the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
“There are too many significant achievements to mention” IUA managing director Hiro Kuramoto said.
“The highlights have been many, and we continue to be humbled by the Australian response to our products… the positive feedback from customers continues to confirm that we deliver honest, reliable products.”
This aspect appears to be the key to the company’s success. Its vehicles are not the most modern and tech-laden, but they’re known as being very hard to break.
From here the company wants 30,000 units of annual volume in 2020, and around that time it will launch the next-gen D-Max, and supply/build the new Mazda BT-50 twin-under-the-skin as part of a new joint venture.
In its core country of Thailand — the world’s biggest one-tonne pickup market — Isuzu dominates, with the D-Max and its HiLux rival owning 70 per cent market share between them.