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Isuzu finds success with I-Venture Club

Pay dirt: Isuzu Ute Australia’s I-Venture Club initiative has proved popular with D-Max and MU-X owners, encouraging many to make their first foray into off-road driving.

Off-road experience a hit with Isuzu owners as I-Venture Club celebrates anniversary


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29 Mar 2016

ISUZU Ute Australia’s I-Venture Club, which organises off-road experiences for customers, has proved a smash hit in its first year of operation with 266 D-Max ute and MU-X SUV owners participating since the programme officially launched a year ago.

Most events are one-day trips to popular off-road locations such as River Island in New South Wales, Werribee 4x4 Training and Proving Ground in Victoria, Moreton Island in Queensland and Lancelin Sand Dunes in Western Australia.

So far, the company has run 13 I-Venture Club trips, comprising 11 single-day training events and two weekend trips.

Designed for people interested in off-roading but unsure where to start or intimidated by the hardcore four-wheel-drive clubs, the programme includes instruction on the use of high- and low-range modes, tyre pressure selection, recovery techniques, safety and advice on choosing the equipment and tools to take when planning an off-road journey.

While several premium and sportscar brands offer track day experiences, some car-makers with four-wheel-drive product lines participate in club-based activities and a number of dealership-affiliated off-road clubs exist, GoAuto understands the I-Venture Club is Australia’s only 100 per cent manufacturer-backed off-road training and experience scheme.

Isuzu Ute Australia (IUA) assistant general manager of marketing and PR Dave Harding told GoAuto that feedback from I-Venture Club participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with an average customer feedback score of 4.8 out of a maximum 5.0 points.

Each event has space for 12 vehicles, with one-day trips priced at a subsidised $300 per vehicle including breakfast and lunch for two vehicle occupants. The cost of weekend trips is also subsidised by IUA.

Mr Harding said a number of events were over-subscribed, with the target for 2016 being an additional 400 customers experiencing the I-Venture Club trips.

To achieve this, IUA has prioritised increasing the number of events organised by its Brisbane-based head office while empowering dealerships to run their own events. Longer excursions for customers with more advanced off-road driving skills are also planned.

In addition, Mr Harding said the company was looking at doubling the number of events at some of the more popular locations in order to enable more customers to participate.

GoAuto joined Isuzu customers on a recent I-Venture Club trip to Moreton Island, a three-day excursion that Mr Harding said had received more than 90 registrations for the 12 available vehicle spaces.

The customers represented a broad spectrum of Isuzu owners, including young couples, pairs of male workmates, a father and son, some empty-nester couples and some retirees thinking about taking a grey nomad tour of Australia with a caravan or camper trailer hitched to their Isuzu.

Consistent with Mr Harding’s claim of high satisfaction levels with the I-Venture Club trips, feedback to GoAuto was overwhelmingly positive and for a handful of participants, this was their second outing under the programme.

Those who had experienced both one-day and weekend events said they preferred the longer format, despite the extra cost.

The majority of customers interviewed by GoAuto had not driven off-road before the Moreton Island trip, or had done so once or twice in the past without training and would now take a different approach using their new-found knowledge.

One couple had driven 16 hours from Merimbula in New South Wales to Brisbane so they could take part in the Moreton Island event and others said they intended to book onto I-Venture Club trips in other states so they could incorporate them into longer road-trip holidays.

Those who had never previously driven off-road said they had gained a lot of confidence from the Moreton Island trip now that they knew the proper use of high- and low-range driving modes, recommended tyre pressures and had received advice about necessary equipment that cut through confusing marketing from the four-wheel-drive accessory industry.

Mr Harding said IUA wants to capitalise on the kinship forged between customers on I-Venture Club trips and develop it into a community that enables them to meet, swap travel tips and plan their own events outside the official I-Venture Club excursions.

The initiative was inspired by Isuzu’s 4x4 Land off-road park in Pattaya, Thailand. The brand’s South African branch also launched its Off Road Academy in December 2015.

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