Mazda and Isuzu will co-develop their next generation light commercial utes, with the two Japanese automakers today announcing a “basic agreement” that will see Isuzu responsible for the assembly of utes for both brands.
Ford and Mazda had enjoyed a long corporate partnership stretching back almost 30 years – one of the first products of which being the Mazda-derived Ford Courier, the Ranger’s great-grandaddy – however the marriage dissolved in 2010 with the Ranger/BT-50 being one of the last joint Mazda/Ford projects to hit the market.
But Mazda has now found a new dance partner in the form of Isuzu. As an extension of the existing light truck co-branding deal between the two companies, Isuzu will supply Mazda-badged pick up utilities for Mazda to sell globally – except in North America.
Precise details of the deal have not yet been made public, however, and it’s not clear whether Mazda will design its own unique “top hat” structure – exterior sheetmetal, cabin and tub – for its BT-50 replacement or whether it will be a lightly modified version of the next D-Max (above) with modest external differentiation, like the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan.
What is clear is this will allow both Mazda and Isuzu to remain strong players in the increasingly important utility market. In a statement released today, the deal will supposedly allow “Isuzu to enhance its product competitiveness and Mazda to strengthen its product line-up and maintain own-brand market coverage”.
Timing has yet to be announced, though with the BT-50 and D-Max only five and four years old respectively it may be at least a couple of years before we see the next generation of either model hit showrooms.