By on July 11, 2016

Isuzu D-Max

Mazda is closing the door on its relationship with Ford and opting to partner with Isuzu for its next-generation pickup trucks.

The automaker announced a new agreement today that will see Isuzu build its next pickup model, bound for everywhere but North America. The two companies previously collaborated on a pickup solely for the Japanese market.

For the past decade, Mazda’s midsize “world” pickup has been a badge-engineered version of the Ford Ranger — the BT-50. Isuzu’s midsize D-Max pickup (now well into its second generation) is comparable in size and power.

The new agreement allows “Isuzu to enhance its product competitiveness and Mazda to strengthen its product line-up and maintain own-brand market coverage,” Mazda stated in a release.

Isuzu’s D-Max first appeared in 2002 and shares a platform with General Motors’ midsize pickups. The second generation bowed in 2012, powered by three four-cylinder diesel engines of 1.9, 2.5 and 3.0 liters.

Mazda didn’t go into details of when its new pickup will appear, or how similar it would be to Isuzu’s offerings. It’s likely that Mazda wants to wait until the next generation of the D-Max appears, though no firm release date has been given for that model.

Mazda and Ford were once the closest of product partners, with the American automaker once owning a third of the Japanese company. (Ford’s stake in Mazda is now negligible after several share sell-offs.) The end of the Ranger/BT-50 pickup collaboration marks another severing of ties between the two companies, with Mazda increasingly seeking partnerships with other automakers.

[Image: Isuzu Australia]

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92 Comments on “Mazda Partners With Isuzu for Pickups, Ditches Ford, Continues to Avoid North America...”


  • avatar

    Our market is saturated. No thanks Maxda.

    Don’t waste your time.

  • avatar

    the NA mid-sized truck market, which has GM and Toyota in it, is saturated?

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      Darn right it is.

      Considering Nissan & Honda are fringe players in the pickup biz, Mazda and Isuzu have a snowballs chance in hell of making a dent and they know it.

      Besides , they’d have to engineer a truck the size of the Costa Concordia to be competitive in the US market.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Think Essex class at minimum.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          In the ‘good old days” Mazda B-series trucks (pre-Ranger clone) were every bit as well put together and durable as Yotas, and rusted just as readily unfortunately. There might be enough people that fondly remember those old B2000/2200/2600s that would buy a new one. Just don’t try to make it in to a gotdanged sportscar!

          • 0 avatar
            vwgolf420

            I live in the southeast where cars often don’t rust like other regions, and there are still a lot of those late 1980s B2200s on the road. There’s a little old man who drives one around my neighborhood picking up discarded furniture, appliances, etc..

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @Ls1
        US market not really their target, lucrative ” 1 tonne” market is. Isuzu is not far behind Toyota in Asia for Pickups.
        Toyota make 700,000 Pickups annually. Isuzu roughly 600,000

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      nine11c2,
      The US pickup market is saturated under the way in which it is controlled and regulated.

      If there was an open market you would enjoy as many brands of pickups as us. I think we have 15 brands of pickups at the moment in a country with 23 million people, the US has well over 300 million. Pickup prices in the US would drop substantially. Instead of making a 25% profit on pickups it would be more realistic.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        yes, but they’re all “Ranger” sized or smaller. even w/o the chicken tax there’s no guarantee they’d all be available here, or would sell.

        Gas is simply too cheap here. There’s practically no penalty to buying more truck (an F-150) for very little more money.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          JimZ,
          Then why not allow for their import. Your view “there’s no guarantee they’d all be available here, or would sell” is not logical for the use of the chicken tax.

          If the new midsizers were priced lower than the current Taco and Colorado they would sell.

          As I pointed out we have a multitude of pickup brands and yet they sell and cheaper overall to the US midsizer.

          Full size 1/2 ton pickups will still sell in huge numbers. I’m not in any way suggesting the demise of the 1/2 ton pickup. Just a more competitive market with lower margins.

          That’s what fair competition will bring to the market.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Your view “there’s no guarantee they’d all be available here, or would sell” is not logical for the use of the chicken tax.”

            I wasn’t using it as justification for the tariff, chief.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        You have 15 brands because OZ is a virtual dumping ground for unsafe and gross polluting pickups that would otherwise get shipped to Africa.

        Yes some of your pickup *choices* are good, but other junk you would never choose.

        Of the good ones, how many are redundant to what’s for sale in the US, like the Holden, Isuzu, Toyota, Nissan?

        Or other OEMs that have been here, failed, profits were slim, and or “fleet sales” dominated. Or they were overwhelmed by cheapskates? That’s mainly Ford, Mazda, Isuzu, Dodge, Mitsu, Subaru, VW to name a few.

        How many of those 15 did I leave out?

        • 0 avatar
          Dsemaj

          Wow, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

          We have pretty strong safety and enviornment ratings, anything here that gets shit safety ratings will struggle to sell. Airbags and ESP have been mandatory for years.

          Granted we have a few Chinese brand on the market, but their safety ratings are at least 3 ANCAP stars (our equivalent of Euro NCAP). Besides, they sell in negligible numbers, barely cracking 100/units a month.

          Our market is hardly full of unsafe, polluting trucks.

          Nissan NP300 Navara
          Holden Colorado
          Toyota Hilux
          Izusu D-Max
          Ford Ranger
          Mazda BT-50
          Mitsubishi Triton
          VW Amarok

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Thank you. That’s 8 trucks that are worth looking at. 4 of those are represented in the US. 2 of the last 4 are same trucks.

            Of the remaining, those car makers have the capital to easily overcome any loopholes required, but the trucks may not fit their US game plan, knowing marginal profit pickups will cannibalize their highly profitable US car lineups.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          As much as your tiny brain can remember

        • 0 avatar
          Guitar man

          You need a truck licence to drive a full-sized pick up in Australia. They are not imported by the manufacturer, but by local importers who then have to change the steering column position to RHD, so they are expensive, and only bought in limited numbers, by people like the “horsey set”.

          So in fact, the market is not really saturated, allowing room for makers like Mahindra and Great Wall.

          The Mazda/Isuzu would not work in USA because Isuzu only make diesel engines, which are not that popular in the US. The petrol engine sold in the domestic Thai market in the BT-50 is not EC compliant in the US. It would also have to compete with better full-sized pick-ups like the F-150.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Does this end Mazda’s partnership with Ford in any sector in any market? I was under the impression that the Ranger/BT-50 was Mazda’s last Ford anything. Or are some Mazda powertrains still Ford-based?

  • avatar
    frozenman

    Breaking News!, Mazda clueless in North American market! more to follow….

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Company that’s good at making lots of trucks people in the first world buy: Ford.
    Company that’s good at making some trucks people in Thailand buy: Isuzu.

    Bad plan, Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      If Mazda were to partner with Toyota Tacoma to produce a mid-size truck for them for North America, I think that would be a good plan. And it would give GM a run for their money.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That’s a better idea, as well as continuing to use the Ranger variants. Isuzu tends to just make garbage.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

        Why would Toyota want to do that? They don’t need Mazda to move more Tacomas.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          No, Toyota would not need that. But Mazda would. Why did Toyota partner with Subaru. Toyota didn’t need that. But Subaru did.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

            They partnered because they were trying to share development costs for a vehicle that doesn’t have significant volume. The Tacoma has significant volume. Mazda offers nothing to Toyota when it comes to trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yes, that’s why Subaru and Toyota partnered.

            But Mazda and Ford partnered in the past to sell thinly disguised Rangers as Mazda B-series pickups. Ford didn’t need to move any more Rangers. But it added to Mazda kkkka-chingggg.

            I owned a B2300, used, cheap, weird 4-cyl engine with 8 spark plugs and 85K on the clock. Members of my family ran the odo up to a little over 200K, and parts were readily available over the counter.

            Sometimes partnerships provide a greater variety in the global market place, like Isuzu and GM or Dodge and Mitsubishi.

            Even if not for the US market, partnerships can result in increased profitability in other markets.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            If you’ll recall, Ford’s first compact truck was the Courier, which was actually a Mazda B1800 with Ford badges. Perhaps that’s why they supplied Rangers to Mazda. Before minipickups were super popular, Mazda also made the legendary REPU, although their Ford Courier actually proceeded it to market in 1972. Ford kept selling Mazda pickups in the US for eleven years, and they sold them even longer in some other markets.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ToddAtlasF1, yeah I remember that. A friend of mine in City of Industry, CA, had a whole fleet of Couriers for his……… courier business (package delivery).

            He ran those little trucks until they would run no more. And then he switched over to……………..Tacoma –the old 90’s Tacoma.

            He has since died and I have no idea what his son uses these days, since he and his sister took over the business.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        HDC,
        They have ruled out NA, going for the somewhat booming ” 1 Tonne” market where Off Road and Payloads count

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          RobertRyan, and I wish them well.

          To me the Isuzu-Mazda merger resembles Sergio Marchionne peddling Fiatsler all over the world in search of a partnership and then finding a partner in Skoda or avtovaz.

          I don’t think the merger will enhance either brand.

          Time and sales numbers will tell if this is a smooth move or just a bad case of constipation.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            HDC,
            A lot better than partnering with Toyota. Isuzu is increasing it’s non truck offerings.and Mazda is growing with it’s sedans

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            RobertRyan, I’m sure there was a lot of cussin’ and discussin’ by both parties before the decision was made for this partnership.

            And if it works, it works. And maybe what this partnership will produce won’t hack it in the US market. That’s why the US market is not going to be included.

            To be brutally honest, I was never impressed with Isuzu’s offerings in the US, and Mazda has fallen a long way since the days of the 626 and 929, IMO.

            So I see this as a ploy for Isuzu and Mazda to prop each other up in a market that is less demanding than the US market.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            HDC,
            Actually much more demanding than the US Market, as the number of players have dramatically increased and the unique requirements required for each region. As Well the REWARDS are vastly a lot more. If you can sell right across Asia,Latin America, Middle East and Australasia it is a HUGE market

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            RobertRyan, yes, I know that the rest of the planet is a huge market, much bigger and much more important than the North American market.

            And also with far fewer restrictions and mandates than the US market.

            My cousin in Germany recently told me the story of shipping 8 Mercedes cars off to Iran since they could no longer pass inspection in Germany (for various reasons.)

            They didn’t care about inspections in Iran.

            And remember when trade resumed between Russia and Western Europe, after 1989?

            Russia was sooooooo starved for cars from Western Europe that they took any and all cars that Russian citizens would bring back from their trip to Western Europe, no questions asked.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @HDC,
            Different restrictions and needs to the US market. Not many have open slather, exceptions would be 4Th world countries

    • 0 avatar

      Considering they aren’t selling these in North America, it seems like a reasonable plan to me.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        They’re not selling them here because Isuzu couldn’t hack it in the US market with their products. Stands to reason applying one of those products to a Mazda badge won’t make it a good seller either.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          they also “can’t” sell them here because the tariff would make it a money loser. and they’d have to re-tool or build a new plant to assemble them in NAFTA, which is a risky proposal for a mid-size truck.

          Heck, if it wasn’t for the chicken tax I’d wager we’d have the Ranger here.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            JimZ,
            You are very correct. VW even made a statement to the effect;

            “if we can’t import the Amarok into the US the US will not get them due to the chicken tax. Manufacturing the Amarok in the US is not an option as we need to sell at a minimum 100 000 per year straight up to profit.”

            There are a lot of nice pickups you guys are missing on. These would be attractive and viable in the US market.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The only thing the Chicken tax can do is rub salt in the wound. It can’t make a truck a loser, they do that on their own. Remember the Chicken tax was there all through the ’80s Mini-Truck Craze. Every pickup truck was a winner, made in Japan or not.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Corey,

          Isuzu failed in the passenger car market in the US, but they are still in the commercial truck market.

          Are the current Duramax engines still Isuzu joint ventures? I know older ones were.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Right, I’m just thinking of the passenger things in the ’90s, after they stopped trying sedans and had SUV/trucks only. Trooper (bad transmisison), Rodeo (bad most things), VehiCROSS (see Rodeo), Axiom (see Rodeo), Ascender (derpy TrailBlazer), and then the I280 models.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            yes, DMAX Ltd. is still a GM-Isuzu JV.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            GM Canada used to group Isuzu, Saab and Saturn dealers together. What a mess, three brands that were starved for product and that they didn’t know how to sell.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Heavy Handle,
            Isuzu owns the patents for the engine,but GM does the ancillaries and production. I noticed every time they upgrade the engine,they get Isuzu personnel to do it.
            6.6 DMax is considered a light cycle engine.,so it does not fit into the Isuzu Truck lineup.
            New ” MDT” Chevrolet Trucks will use the heavy cycle 7.7 Diesels

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          CoreyDL,
          For starter the US BT50 was a very outdated platform. Why would you sell such a pickup? The only reason it sold in the US is similar to why the Trabant sold in East Germany. Control of the market with little or no outside competition.

          Restrain on competition is not good for any market.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You lost me with your comment on BT50, looking that up says it’s only been around since 2006. Which thing are you referring to which was sold in the US?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            he’s probably referring to the Mazda B-Series, which was a lightly badge-engineered PN150 Ranger.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh, that. Well I understand what the B3000 is. Always liked the front end MPV type styling they slapped on there a bit better than the regular Ranger styling.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Yeah there never was a BT50 sold in the US. The Mazda pickups we did get were never big sellers even when people bought mini-pickups.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Sorry, US B Series.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Corey, DL,
          Isuzu DMax, well and truly outsells the Global Colorado here in Aust/ NZ. Isuzu will be selling their ” Medium Duty” Trucks as Chevrolets

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The split from Ford has been going on for years, and it was initiated by Ford.

      This is a byproduct of Mulally’s plan to focus on Ford’s core brand. That involved getting rid of PAG and getting out of Mazda.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        while ultimately necessary, it was sort of a shame to let Volvo go and divest from Mazda. Those tie-ups were pretty beneficial to Ford in terms of architectures and powertrains. Buying/owning Jag, L-R, and A-M was a pointless waste of time, money, and resources.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          All of those companies found a new life after getting rid of Ford. Jaguar has really boomed. Interesting to see how their modular inline engines perform

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Ford has been doing this for a while, becoming a very bad dance partner, for anyone else. As things are unfolding it will eventually end up as a NA only Pickup Maker, Ranger has been moderately successful.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    So you are saying that there is no market in North America for a truck sized like the old Rangers and Tacomas? I cannot believe that, a lot of people need a small truck for work and do minor chores.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

      Home Depot provides a truck for $20 if I need a one for chores. Many small businesses use Transit Connect sized vans now. The market is smaller than it used to be. Fleets and cheapskates for that sized vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      It would be sized the same as the current Colorado/Tacoma/etc. The size difference (percieved or real) between a new midsizer and an old compact is mostly in front overhang, bed height, and width.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “So you are saying that there is no market in North America for a truck sized like the old Rangers and Tacomas? ”

      if there was, why did they all go away?

      it’s like the people who claim wagons would sell well. Heh. Up almost through the ’90s you could get a Camry wagon, Taurus/Sable wagon, Accord wagon, Corolla wagon, etc. They all disappeared because people stopped buying them.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        “if there was, why did they all go away?”

        The automakers determined it was more profitable to concentrate development into their full size product, expecting the consumer to follow, which they did. I can’t say they made a bad decision.

        There is a market for smaller trucks if they were available, but that market is generally not opposed to larger trucks. While I bought a used Ranger because I refuse to get a full-size truck, I’m the exception, not the norm.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Corollaman,
      There is a market, it’s just the control of the market will only allow for locally produced pickups. The cost of building a midsizer or 1/2 ton makes the midsizer uncompetitive against the 1/2 ton.

      But, an imported midsizer would be significantly cheaper. The Big 3 don’t want this along with the UAW.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @Big Al from 0Z,
        Especially when you paying less than Aus$ 20,000 for some of the ” cheapies”

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Even if the Chicken tax was gone and they entered loophole-free, there wouldn’t be enough volume to justify federalizing them.

        So if there was enough demand, or volume potential, they’d be made (completed CKD kit) in Mexico. Although labor is exponentially cheaper down there, labor is a small part of the build expenditure.

        I hope your weren’t thinking shipping them across oceans is cheap.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Mazda dealers must be screaming for product.

  • avatar
    Funky

    It is too bad, really, that Mazda no longer offers a truck in the USA. Although I didn’t think of myself as the right audience for a small or medium truck, I recently purchased one (since I had a need to pull a trailer). I ended up with a new 2016 Toyota Tacoma (TRD Sport V6 w/ tow package and 6 speed manual transmission). After driving it on several long trips as well as around town, I now realize why many people love the pickups (and, more specifically, the Toyota Tacoma). I compared the Tacoma to other medium trucks. The Tacoma was the only one which offered a manual tansmission in a higher level trim. For mostly this reason as well as a few other reasons I bought the Tacoma. I think I heard someone else refer to the Tacoma as the “Mazda Miata of trucks”. I would definitely concur with this statement. It is fun to drive (for a truck) and especially with the manual transmission.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I think this is a backwards move. The current Ranger based BT50 is as. or more refine than the US Colorado. I view our pickup truck market with three sub segments based on price.

    The top pickups and the most expensive are;
    1. Toyota Hilux
    2. Ford Ranger
    3. Mazda BT50,
    4. VW Amarok, and
    5. Nissan Navara.

    The middling players are;
    1. Izuzu Dmax,
    2. Holden Colorado, and
    3. Mistubishi Triton.

    The bottom players are;
    The developing nation imports.

    Unless GM can do something with the Colorado platform the Izuzu Dmax will not outperform the Ranger based BT50 off road and for on road refinement.

    Bad move by Mazda. But I also think Ford isn’t helping Mazda too much and there are restraints on the Mazda in what markets it can be sold in. Not to sure about this. But, it appears to be this way.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Does Mazda have any other options to stay in the pickup segment? Is Ford willing to do a new agreement after this one expires when this generation of truck is replaced? Mazda doesn’t have the money to develop their own pickup from scratch. So that means rebadge time. I would think that with their other tie ups Toyota would be the first choice and I’m guessing that Toyota wasn’t interested. That leaves GM/Isuzu, Nissan, Mitsubishi, or VW for a non 3rd world quality product. I doubt anyone would dare hook up with VW at this time. Mitsubishi doesn’t have a decent reputation for having high quality desirable products. I would think that Nissan would be interested but they may not want to play with someone that is in cahoots with Toyota and FCA.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Big Al from Oz,
      Mazda are really trying for a price point, which is a bad move from my experience. Still the Isuzu appears to be outselling its ” sibling” the Colorado. On paper Isuzu looks anemic,but performance on road is far from it.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    What’s next: will Mrs. Ford dump Edsel for Joe Isuzu? At least she won’t get beaten any more.


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