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Isuzu Ute aims to double sales

Roll-up: Isuzu has bold sales plans for its new D-Max and MU-X ranges.

Bold target of 10 per cent market share for Isuzu D-Max revealed

5 Nov 2013


ISUZU Ute is embarking on a bid to almost double its share of Australia’s mammoth light-commercial vehicle market within three years by improving the safety and towing credentials of its D-Max while pursuing more fleet deals and energising its dealer network.

The company has set its Australian arm an equally bold target of 3000 annual sales of its new MU-X SUV in 2014 – almost double anticipated sales of the related Holden Colorado 7 this year – before growing to about 8000 units by 2017.

Isuzu Ute has already carved out a strong niche since launching as a separate entity here in 2008. Before that, it provided utes to Holden under the Rodeo badge.

Plans revealed this week show the company better known for its market-leading truck range intends to take big chunks out of arch-rivals such as the Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton and the (platform-sharing, but not engine-sharing) Holden Colorado.

D-Max holds a 5.3 per cent share of the combined 4x2 and 4x4 light truck market in 2013, with 7324 sales to the end of September. The company will likely breach the 10,000 sales barrier by year’s end, up more than 20 per cent on 2012.

But Isuzu head office is pushing its local subsidiary to hit 10 per cent in 2016 by poaching more HiLux, Triton, Navara, Ranger and Colorado buyers. The first step will be to get a 6.8 per cent share of the segment in 2014.

At the core of this plan lies an imminent improvement to the D-Max’s safety and towing credentials, giving it a wider reach into big fleets, as well as working to grow its reputation among so-called ‘weekend warriors’ who buy light commercials as lifestyle machines more than tools-of-trade.

A series of structural changes to the lower A-pillar and chassis rails should take the D-Max’s ANCAP star rating from four-stars to five in early 2014, allowing it wade deeper into the mining market and safety-restricted general fleets.

A revised tow-hitch will give a new, equal-class-leading 3.5-tonne towing capacity at the same time, putting it neck-and-neck with the Holden Colorado with which it shares a platform, plus the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 twins.

Other plans include adding about 11 new dealers over the next few years, taking the network from 89 to about 100, and marketing the car’s class-topping resale value of more than 70 per cent after three years and customer satisfaction ratings from a recent Roy Morgan study.

If Isuzu achieves its goals, it will become a genuine volume player in the local market.

Speaking on the company’s growth target for D-Max, as well as its bold plans for the new SUV, Isuzu Australia general manager for sales and dealer development Paul Connolly said the company would leverage its truck heritage and reputation for reliability in its bid to woo fleets.

This strategy would also be helped by what Isuzu hopes will be a revised five-star rating for D-Max from the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

Mr Connolly said the tried and trusted Aisan transmission used in both Isuzu models – a re-mapped version of the unit used in the 100 Series Toyota LandCruiser – was already a fleet favourite.

He said one major challenge for the company was working with its dealerships, most of which were multi-franchised, to place more emphasis on Isuzu.

“The first one is our dealer representation, getting their skill level right and their passion towards the product,” he said. “It’s a challenge because we don’t have the throughput for standalone dealerships … getting to the forefront of their minds is the first step.”

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