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GM and Isuzu seal future ute deal

Sharing the load: GM and Isuzu have agreed to step up their co-operation when they jointly develop their next Holden Colorado (pictured) and D-Max utes.

Next Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max to be developed jointly by old allies

Holden logo9 Oct 2014

GENERAL Motors and its former junior partner Isuzu are getting the band back together to co-develop their next-generation Holden/Chevrolet Colorado and Isuzu D-Max utes to save money on engineering and parts costs.

The new workhorse twins again will be built in Thailand for sale by both GM and Isuzu in markets outside North America.

GM Holden has confirmed that the GM version of the ute will replace the current Thai-built Colorado light truck that has been sold under Holden badges since June 2012.

No date has yet been announced for the arrival of the third-generation Colorado, although Holden corporate communications manager Sean Poppitt told GoAuto that it would be several years away.

GM’s Australian-based design team is expected to submit a design “theme” for the new light truck range, as it does with all GM products.

The design and engineering base for the current Colorado was in Brazil, although at least one Australian designer was involved in colour and trim design.

Isuzu’s version is also expected to wear D-Max badges in Australia where Isuzu Ute has been one of the rising stars of the light-commercial vehicle market.

The new agreement is a case of déjà vu for the two manufacturers, who appeared to be moving apart after GM sold its share of Isuzu in 2006 after decades of part ownership.

They appear to have had second thoughts about going their own way, and reportedly have been in talks since 2013 about jointly developing a new Colorado/D-Max because of cost pressures.

The deal was finally signed last month, with Isuzu announcing: “Based on a long history of co-operation and trust, Isuzu and GM will leverage their extensive know-how and technologies to develop the next-generation midsize pickup to match customer needs.

“The joint team will also leverage synergies and commonise components to enable further reductions in cost.

“The project will strengthen the light-commercial vehicle business of GM and Isuzu, whose pickup represents the basis for the new model.”

13 center image From top: Holden Colorado 7, Isuzu MU-X and Isuzu D-Max.The agreement is likely to have been influenced by a rash of similar joint ventures in the one-tonne truck arena, with Ford-Mazda and, most recently, Nissan-Mitsubishi arrangements in place.

Both GM and Isuzu confirmed their new models would not be sold in North America where the current-generation Colorado has finally just gone on sale with Chevrolet badges.

Although the current Colorado and D-Max are related under the skin, they are built at different plants and armed with unique styling, powertrains and features.

It is unclear if the new models will share powertrain components – and that seems possible, considering the tone of the announcement – but they will continue to be built in separate plants.

The D-Max is powered by a 3.0-litre Isuzu diesel, while the Colorado gets a 2.8-litre diesel.

Before the current Colorado and D-Max arrived in 2012, an Isuzu-sourced ute – called Rodeo until 2008 and then Colorado until it was replaced by the current model – was sold under Holden badges.

Holden was forced to give up the Rodeo badge because it was owned by Isuzu Motors under the Australian import arrangement.

The Isuzu-developed Jackaroo SUV – also known as the Isuzu Trooper in some markets – was also sold as a Holden until 2002. These days, Holden sells the Colorado 7 large SUV, while Isuzu sells the related MU-X.

For Holden, the Colorado was been one of its winners this year, with sales of the 4x4 variants up 13.1 per cent year to date.

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.