The latest version of the popular Isuzu-designed one-tonne light truck range sold in Australia as the Holden Rodeo for 28 years will launch locally in its original manufacturer identity as the Isuzu D-MAX within weeks.
The move follows the establishment of Isuzu UTE Australia Pty Ltd (IUA), a new entity based in Brisbane which will import and wholesale the Isuzu D-MAX range to newly-appointed Isuzu UTE dealers around the country.
IUA is a totally separate organization from its brand sibling, Melbourne-based Isuzu Australia Ltd, whose extensive range of light-medium to heavy trucks are leading the Australian truck market for the 20th consecutive year.
IUA’s D-MAX range will include 4x2 and 4x4 variants in ute (pickup) and cab/chassis configurations.
Some Australians have already seen their first D-MAX — as a full-on Dakar-style diesel desert rally racer driven by Sydney’s Bruce Garland in the recent Australasian Safari in outback WA August 23-30.
Competing as a lead-up to the Dakar Rally in January, Garland won his class and podium finished outright against a couple of large Japanese utes powered by transplanted six-litre hotted Chevvy V8 engines. He was the Safari’s first ever diesel-powered podium finisher and competitive stage winner.
Globally, the Isuzu D-MAX is the second top-selling one-tonne conventional cab/chassis/ ute range with an established reputation for reliability, strength and diesel fuel economy. In Australia, previously badged as Rodeo, it has been one of the top four light trucks for over 10 years.
While Isuzu owns the Rodeo moniker, IUA decided to adopt the worldwide D-MAX nameplate to link more closely with the reputation for excellence of the Isuzu light commercial product and to reflect the support which will be offered to Australian D-MAX customers through Isuzu UTE dealers.
Around 40 Isuzu UTE dealers have already been appointed nationally and more will follow. They are all well established and reputed operators and many are luxury and niche car brand dealers who will be able to add a quality light commercial range to their customers’ new vehicle menu.
Isuzu UTE dealers will be boutique ‘Ute Centres’ in their areas, totally focussed on the special needs of light truck buyers, be they workhorse, recreational or a mix of both.
IUA is headed by managing director Hitoshi Kono, who has had extensive experience setting up and running multinational ventures in many countries outside Japan. Following an 11-year stint in the USA, he returned to Tokyo late in 2004 and assumed responsibility for collaborative Isuzu projects in China then Australia.
Deputy MD is Takeshi Kasahara who, from 1999 to 2007, held key posts in Isuzu’s flagship Thailand distributor Tri Petch Isuzu Sales Co Ltd including business planning, systems development, market research, marketing, service management and finally Manager, Sales Group.
With a proven record of implementing Japan’s world-leading production engineering values into the highest quality finished utes and pick-up trucks, Thailand is where the Isuzu D-MAX is manufactured, as are most Japanese-design one-tonne trucks. Thailand is the world’s second-largest one-tonne pickup-style ute market, selling nearly 383,000 utes in 2007, of which over 133,000 or 35 percent were D-MAX.
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