Isuzu has its sights set on keeping the D-Max on Australia’s new-car sales podium.

The D-Max ute trailed only the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux on the VFACTS sales charts in June, with 3167 sales putting it ahead of the Toyota RAV4 and Kia Cerato.

It’s currently Australia’s second-best selling 4×2 ute behind the Toyota HiLux, and the third-best selling 4×4 ute behind the Ford Ranger and HiLux.

Isuzu says that podium finish shouldn’t be a one-off result, either.

“That is our ultimate goal, to maintain the number three position,” said Ben Jaeger, general manager of sales for Isuzu Ute Australia.

“We’d love it to be number three ongoing, and I think when the supply gets back to a normal position that will be the position we hold in the segment,” he said.

Mr Jaeger said the D-Max is still “somewhat restricted by supply”, acknowledging at the same time plenty of rivals are also being held back by a lack of cars coming into Australia.

The brand is also hoping the new MU-X will keep it in the overall sales top 10, having finished ninth on the VFACTS charts in May and 10th in June.

“Do we have aspirations of being a top-10 volume brand in this market? I think it’s fair to say that we do,” Mr Jaeger said. The new MU-X is a key part of that plan.

Although it’s in the twilight of its life, the outgoing MU-X is the best-selling ute-based four-wheel drive in Australia, and is second overall in its VFACTS segment behind the Toyota Prado.

It’s averaged 833 sales per month so far in 2021, up from the 675 it was averaging at the same point in 2020.

“Do we hope to capture some additional market share with this vehicle? I guess we do expect that,” Mr Jaeger said.

“In regards to a figure we’re chasing? We’d always be conservative, but if we’re not doing more than 1000 units per month then I guess we would be disappointed,” he said.

Isuzu punches well above its weight, given it only has two models in Australia.

The brands sitting around it on the charts include MG, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW, all of which have much larger line-ups.

The limited scope of its range does leave Isuzu susceptible to changing tastes in Australia’s new car market.

At the moment, closed borders and healthy tax incentives for people buying dual-cab utes are conspiring to drive demand for tow vehicles like the D-Max and MU-X through the roof.

Mr Jaeger says Isuzu knows demand for adventure-ready cars will drop when the borders open again, but remains confident the brand’s reputation will hold it in good stead.

“I think there’ll always be a place for that kind of vehicle,” he said. “The trend was growing well before COVID hit in regards to those types of vehicles.”

“It may get to a point where that volume is saturated, the pie doesn’t get any bigger.

“However, we feel as though when it does get to that point our product, and our reputation, will have grown even further – that our nameplates will hold a much stronger position [in their segments]…

“If it does come down slightly, say in three or four years time, we still feel as though volumes will be at quite a strong level.”

Scott Collie

Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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