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GM-Isuzu ute deal dissolves

No deal: If Holden and Isuzu had gone ahead with a co-development project, the company’s next Colorado and D-Max would have shared underpinnings.

One-tonne ute co-development deal ends as GM and Isuzu part company

25 Jul 2016

ISUZU and General Motors have decided to go their own way in the development of their next rough and ready one-tonne utes, ending a deal struck in 2014 for the two auto-makers to collaborate on the next-generation Colorado and D-Max.

If fruitful, the partnership would have produced a Thai-built pair of workhorses that would have shared much of their mechanicals under two different skins, but “unique requirements for each company” prevented GM and Isuzu agreeing on a balance of design parameters.

As such, the two companies today announced that the agreement had been wound up but GM and Isuzu parted company on good terms.

“GM and Isuzu have agreed to cease the joint development program for the next-generation midsize pick-up truck for General Motors International (GMI) markets,” said General Motors in an official statement.

“GM and Isuzu greatly value their relationship and will continue to collaborate on a range of projects across sales, vehicle parts and manufacturing in North and South America, Africa and Asia.

“Both GM and Isuzu agree that due to unique requirements for each company, joint development of the next-generation pick-up truck for GMI markets is no longer the optimal model for this project.” GM’s Colorado development strategy remains unclear now that the global car-maker has split from the Japanese off-road and commercial vehicle brand, but says it has not been left in the lurch and the new plan is nearly ready.

“GM is finalising its next-generation pick-up truck strategy for GMI and will share its plans in due course.” Collaborating with other car-makers to create mutually beneficial models is not an uncommon practice with Subaru and Toyota teaming up to build the BRZ/86 sportscar, while Renault, Nissan and Mercedes are at it with another one-tonne ute based on the NP300 Navara.

The collaboration shares development costs for a common goal, but without a partner, both companies will have to wear the full price of designing and developing a ute if both respective parties decide to push on.

It is not yet known how the parting of Isuzu and Holden/GM will affect the deal between fellow Japanese brand Mazda (if at all), which announced earlier this month that it had jumped on board with Isuzu to build its next BT-50. Mazda had previously collaborated with Ford to develop the current BT-50 alongside the Ranger, but that agreement ended.

With GM and Holden now out on its own, the North American brand is likely to lean more heavily on its own resources including Australia’s local design team, and the split of Isuzu could end up resulting in a heavier Australian influence.

Either way, the Australian design team will have submitted sketches to GM’s headquarters for evaluation, and even if the styling goes to a different team, local involvement could extend to the Lang Lang proving ground during development stages.

It is not known whether either company has secured a new co-development partner following the recent separation, or if the flexibility of working alone justifies the greater project cost in the eyes of the car-makers.

Isuzu and General Motors will continue to work together on a number of international projects, including a US commercial vehicle collaboration.

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