Mazda Picks Isuzu As Pickup Partner

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Divorce can be messy, and that’s just as true in the auto business as it was in Kramer vs. Kramer. Getting untangled from a longtime partner can take a while. In the case of the split between Mazda and Ford, that separating is still going on. One of the collaborations between the two companies was with pickup trucks—both in the U.S. and abroad—but Mazda just announced a new pickup partner: Isuzu.

Isuzu—yes, it’s still in business, although it left the U.S. consumer market in early 2009—will build a pickup truck for Mazda. The new pickup presumably will replace the Mazda BT-50 (pictured). The BT-50 was co-developed with Ford of Australia and is a mechanical twin to the Ford Ranger. The current generation of this truck, which is built in Thailand and in South Africa, was introduced in late 2010 and updated last year. Since Ford and Mazda won’t be working together on a new one (Ford divested itself of all but a tiny share of Mazda in 2013), Mazda wisely has been casting around for a replacement.

Americans first came to know Isuzu pickups as the Chevy LUV, which faced off against Datsuns and Toyotas here starting in 1972. After Chevrolet dropped the second-generation version (in favor of its homegrown S-10), Isuzu began selling it as the P-up in the early ’80s. That truck’s replacement, built in Indiana, was the humbly named Isuzu Pickup. When the Pickup reached the end of the road, Isuzu was given a version of the new Chevy S-10, the Hombre—a friend you may have forgotten. General Motors sold off its Isuzu shares in 2006, but their collaboration continues in the commercial truck market and in co-development of diesel engines, including the one offered in the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon.

For its part, Mazda hasn’t sold a pickup in the United States since the days of the B2000, which was a rebadged Ford Ranger (the American one). Prior to that, Mazda had supplied Ford with its first compact pickup, which Dearborn badged as the Courier, and also sold a similar small pickup under its own brand.

Does this new collaboration mean that we’ll once again see Mazda (or Isuzu) pickups on American soil? Sadly, no. In a statement announcing the partnership, Mazda said that the vehicle, like the current BT-50, will be sold “worldwide, except [in] North America.” For its part, Ford plans to bring its Ranger successor here in 2019 to compete in the mid-size segment.

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