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Isuzu Ute targets 30,000 sales by 2020

30/29 vision: Isuzu Ute Australia has its sights set on 30,000 sales, which it hopes to achieve by 2020.

Consistent sales growth to spur Isuzu Ute beyond 30,000 sales by turn of the decade

24 Apr 2018

ISUZU Ute Australia (IUA) has set its sights on 30,000 annual sales by 2020 after the Japanese ute and SUV specialist clocked up its ninth consecutive year of double-digit sales growth in 2017 with just under 26,000 units.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the model year 2018 D-Max and MU-X last week, IUA director of sales and marketing Koichiro Yoshida said the company had four main areas of focus for achieving 30,000 sales.

The first will be offering products with competitive pricing and cost of ownership, while listening to customer feedback and finetuning its vehicles for Australian consumption.

Continuing its ‘Go Your Own Way’ advertising campaign, giving its customers a positive experience at every touchpoint and focusing on customer service and retention were the three other areas that he believes will help grow the brand.

With just two models in its line-up – the D-Max pick-up and MU-X seven-seat large SUV – the Japanese manufacturer has ridden the wave of increasing SUV and light-commercial vehicle popularity in Australia, increasing its sales from 3566 units in 2009 – its first full year of operation – to 25,804 in 2017.

When IUA launched in Australia in 2008, the pick-up/cab-chassis segment recorded 119,748 sales for an 11.8 per cent total market share, while the overall SUV segment clocked 194,458 sales at a 19.2 per cent market share.

Fast forward to 2017, and both segments have increased dramatically, with the pick-up/cab-chassis class making up 207,615 sales at a 17.5 per cent share, while SUV sales have boomed to 465,646 sales for a 39.2 per cent market share.

In the sub-$70,000 large SUV segment in which the MU-X competes, 116,099 sales were recorded in 2017 (9.8 per cent share) compared to 14,874 in 2008 (1.5 per cent share).

Combined, the one-tonne pick-up and SUV segments now make up 56.6 per cent of Australia’s total new-vehicle sales, while the passenger-car segment, which made up 59.0 per cent of sales in 2008, has fallen to 37.8 per cent, making 2017 the first year where SUVs were more popular than passenger cars.

Mr Yoshida said that he expected both the D-Max and MU-X to increase their sales faster than the average growth of their respective segments.

As well as targeting 30,000 sales by 2020, IUA is also chasing its 10th consecutive year of double-digit sales growth by percentage in 2018, having achieved the mark every year since 2008.

In order to achieve 10 per cent growth in 2018, IUA will need to sell approximately 28,300 vehicles, which means that the 30,000 mark can be achieved as early as 2019 if the streak of double-digit growth continues.

Asked if the target of 30,000 sales by 2019 was possible, Mr Yoshida said: “Of course it is possible, and we’d be extremely pleased to achieve it by then.

“If demand increases as per the current rate in the future, we are confident that 30,000 can be achieved even before 2020.” The company is predicting 19,400 sales for the D-Max (up from 17,717 in 2017) and 8900 from the MU-X (up from 8900).

Through the first quarter of 2018, IUA has sold 5928 vehicles, which only puts it on track to sell 23,712 units.

However, the brand is still 31.9 per cent up over the first quarter of 2017, with last year’s overall result due to supply issues early in the year followed by strong sales in the second half. A similarly strong performance in the back half of the year will be required to maintain its streak of strong yearly growth in 2018.

The biggest year-on-year growth for the company came in 2014, the first full year of sales for the MU-X, with sales increasing by 63 per cent, from 10,089 in 2013 to 16,674.

IUA also predicts that 2018 will be the first year that the D-Max will achieve a 10 per cent share of its segment after flirting with the figure in previous years.

Its share has hovered around the nine per cent mark in the past three years, with 9.2 per cent in 2015, 9.3 per cent in 2016 and then a drop to 9.1 per cent last year, despite increasing overall sales by 1358 units over that period.

A dealership expansion will not play a part in IUA’s quest for 30,000 sales.

Instead, the company will invest money into employee training and improving aftersales and customer care.

Mr Yoshida said he expected the sales growth to occur without extra dealers, adding: “We believe this target can be achieved organically if we continue on our current sales trajectory.”“As a brand, we are committed and focused on working with our strong dealer network on achieving our goal of 30,000 sales by 2020.”

Its current dealership network stands at 141, which started at 38 when the brand launched Down Under in 2008.

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