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Why new Isuzu D-Max 2021 should have Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger worried

Isuzu’s D-Max is expected to steal sales from the likes of the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger.

Isuzu Ute Australia’s all-new D-Max will be one of the most advanced, well-specified and – if ANCAP testing goes to plan – safest utes on the market when it lands next month, but will that translate to boosted consumer interest and more sales?

After seven months of trading in 2020, the D-Max has found 7311 new homes for its 4x2 and 4x4 ute, representing around 7.1 per cent of the overall pick-up market in Australia.

However, keep in mind Isuzu has been trading with a model in runout as it winds down stock of the outgoing D-Max in preparation for the September 1 sale date of the third-generation model.

Speaking to journalists at the virtual launch of the new D-Max, Isuzu Ute Australia general manager of sales Ben Jaeger said the brand is hoping to increase its share of the pie with the arrival of its latest ute.

“In regards to market share, we’re looking to achieve 10 per cent of the overall combined 4x2 and 4x4 LCV segment in the short term,” he said.

“Now that might be quite conservative considering the feedback we’ve had not just from private customers, but also from fleet customers, and the excitement building around this model. We could potentially be pleasantly surprised over the coming years.

“10 per cent’s our conservative market share objective, and how that relates to the overall market? Obviously, it’s a bit hard to forecast market volumes in the current climate.”

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Moving up to a 10 per cent market share wouldn’t affect the ute market leaders, with Toyota HiLux (24.7% share), Ford Ranger (21.1%) and Mitsubishi Triton (11.0%) still taking out the podium, but the Isuzu would be stealing sales from somewhere.

A 10 per cent share also puts Isuzu within striking distance of the Triton, and could usurp it for third place behind the dominate HiLux and Ranger, but the D-Max could very well absorb the sales vacated by the soon-to-disappear Holden Colorado, which current accounts for 6.9 per cent of the segment.

Also sitting below the D-Max in 2020 are the Nissan Navara (6.2%) and Mazda BT-50 (6.1%), the latter soon to be refreshed with an Isuzu-built and mechanically related model.

However, Isuzu could also add incremental D-Max sales thanks to its boosted levels of refinement and safety tech that would lure buyers away from SUVs, despite a noticeable price rise, according to Mr Jaeger.

“We are moving up in regards to our pricing levels, but we still feel as though we’ll be priced appropriately against the likes of HiLux and Ranger.

“We see them as our more natural competitors, they’re obviously the leaders for a reason, they set the benchmark, but we feel as though we’ve got as benchmark vehicle to be able to compete.

“From that point of view, we feel as though we’ll be able to conquest business from those brands, but at the same time our vehicle has a broader appeal across all markets as well.

“A lot of people are moving into dual-cab, or crew cab, models as a family car. We feel as though we might actually see some transition because of what the vehicle offers from other segment that are a traditional LCV type buyer.

“We’re quite excited about the prospect this vehicle provides us.”