Isuzu has confirmed its next-generation D-Max pick-up will be supplied to Mazda as a complete replacement for the BT-50 workhorse, which suggests that previously reported plans for the Japanese manufacturers to develop the new models together have been scrapped.
A commercial vehicle partnership between the two brands was revealed in July last year – which put to bed rumours of a Toyota/Mazda link-up – with Isuzu, allegedly at the time, set to build the forthcoming BT-50 on Mazda's behalf.
However, Isuzu Motors boss Yoichi Masuda has provided the first concrete details on the agreement, stating that it does not involve the co-development of an all-new workhorse product.
Currently, the BT-50 takes its chassis and powertrains from the Ranger, but applies a different front fascia, tail-lights and interior trim.
"The joint venture between Isuzu and Mazda is simply based on supply," he said. "We will supply our own design pick-up to Mazda.
"That is really as simple as the relationship is with Mazda … Isuzu will do everything."
Mazda partnered with Ford previously to produce the current-gen BT-50 – which is based on the Ranger – but their agreement ended in 2016.
Similarly, Isuzu's relationship with General Motors – which saw it manufacture the Australian-spec, Thai-built Holden Colorado – was terminated in July last year.
Currently, the BT-50 takes its chassis and powertrains from the Ranger, but applies a different front fascia, tail-lights and interior trim to distinguish the workhorses visually.
Global sales for the BT-50 are at their highest in Australia – which is the pick-up's established number-one market.
There are some mechanical changes, which became more evident after Mazda elected to not adopt Ford’s upgrades – such as electric steering, revised transmissions and enhanced electronics – that were applied to the Ranger around the time the facelifted BT-50 was launched in September 2015.
Global sales for the BT-50 are at their highest in Australia – which is the pick-up's established number-one market – but are much lower overseas.
"The issue is that the sales volume of pick-ups in our markets is not huge, so we cannot develop by ourselves," said Mazda Motor Company R&D boss Kiyoshi Fujiwara at the Los Angeles motor show in November last year.
Mazda Australia sold 2312 BT-50 4x4s to the end of March this year, while Isuzu has moved 2221 D-Max 4x4s. In the battle of 4x2s, Isuzu's score of 737 currently trails Mazda's total of 1219.
It is expected that the Isuzu D-Max/Mazda BT-50 twins will launch during the early stages of the next decade.
Will Mazda be able to increase BT-50 sales in the future with a rebadged Isuzu D-Max? Tell us what you think in the comments below.