Mazda Partners With Isuzu for Pickups, Ditches Ford, Continues to Avoid North America

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
mazda partners with isuzu for pickups ditches ford continues to avoid north america

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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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jul 11, 2016

    Mazda dealers must be screaming for product.

  • Funky Funky on Jul 11, 2016

    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.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jul 11, 2016

    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.

    • See 4 previous
    • RobertRyan RobertRyan on Jul 11, 2016

      @Scoutdude Competitors would not be happy about it, so Mazda would have to be careful. Isuzu seems the best choice

  • VoGo VoGo on Jul 11, 2016

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