Mazda will expand its product range in 2023 and questions about the possibility of adding a pickup to its portfolio have resurfaced.
The Japanese manufacturer reached an agreement with Isuzu in 2020 to incorporate the newly redesigned D-Max pickup into its global portfolio, instead of the outgoing generation Mazda BT-50 that shared the same platform and engine as the Ford Ranger and was produced in a plant shared with the American manufacturer.
Mazda needed to free up shared plant capacity so it could produce more passenger models that it could market duty-free in the Asia Pacific region. By pulling the BT-50 from the lineup, Mazda could produce more high-demand SUV models like the CX-30.
But as Mazda does not own any other plants in Thailand, it found an alternative partner in Isuzu that could provide an efficient diesel-powered pickup.
In October 2019, Isuzu made the first complete update to the D-Max in eight years. The Japanese automaker then said the updated model would arrive in other countries starting in 2020 and that it would begin supplying new pickup trucks to Mazda during the fiscal year ending March 2021.
The D-Max has a reputation as a “reliable and efficient” pickup, and all Mazda had to do was dress it up to its own Kodo design standards to gear it more towards a lifestyle-seeking customer.
The niche of one-ton midsize pickups is the most popular of the segment in the Mexican market, with a varied offer that includes 4, 5 or 6-cylinder engines, gasoline or diesel, and with different types of bodies, from the most utilitarian and economical with exposed chassis to those with a single or double cab with a high level of equipment.
“We have already raised our hands in the corporation so that they give it to us,” said Miguel Barbeyto, president of Mazda Mexico.
But the agreement between the two Japanese manufacturers establishes that Mazda will be able to market the vehicle in those markets where Isuzu does not have a presence. And in Mexico Isuzu does not sell its pickup, but only commercial vehicles. “So we are seeing that, the talks are beginning,” said Barbeyto, who did not close the door on the arrival of the model, although he did make it clear that this would be in the long term.