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Partnerships made and broken in 2016 - January 2017
Several global joint ventures fell over in 2016 and new ones were born. This was the state of play at the beginning of 2017.
The Australian 4WD ute market is a relatively significant sector, because of the high degree of light commercial ownership. However, in the global context it’s a tiny market and our needs influence very little in the way of vehicle development.
Proof positive is the late-2016 band-aid reworking of the Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series to fulfil the needs of mainly mining equipment buyers: a full redesign is required, but because of our market size, couldn’t be justified in Tokyo.
Speaking of Toyota, the world number one auto maker will continue to develop its own light commercial range for the foreseeable future.
It’s being joined in this solo effort by Ford, which has divorced itself from Mazda and also by General Motors, which has severed ties with Isuzu.
Isuzu and Mazda
In July 2016 Mazda announced that its next generation ute range would be produced by Isuzu.
"Mazda Motor Corporation and Isuzu Motors Limited have reached a basic agreement on next-generation pick-up truck collaboration, allowing Isuzu to enhance its product competiveness and Mazda to strengthen its product line-up and maintain own-brand market coverage," the statement read.
"Isuzu will produce next-generation pick-up trucks for Mazda, based on Isuzu's pick-up truck model."
This deal follows Ford’s downgrading of what was once a controlling share in Mazda back in 2010. Mazda already has agreements to share the MX-5 with Fiat and a partnership with Toyota that was announced in 2015.
General Motors dumps Isuzu
In July 2016 General Motors Co and Isuzu Motor Co agreed to stop working together on developing mid-size pick-up trucks made in Asia. The two companies have shared products since 2006. The US auto-maker intends to focus on the style of pick-ups favoured there, in contrast to the more utilitarian Isuzu product range.
The future of the now Isuzu-derived Holden Colorado ute and wagon range is unclear at this stage.
Nissan buys Mitsubishi Motors
In the short term there will be Renault and Mercedes-Benz versions of the current Nissan NP300 ute range and the next-generation Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Mercedes-Benz utes should share a common platform.
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi intends to continue the Mitsubishi nameplate and preserve the successful Mitsubishi dealer networks in SEA and Australia.
The buy-out ends the independent existence of Mitsubishi Motors, but it doesn’t mean the demise of Mitsubishi Corporation from the automotive world.
Mitsubishi Corporation is just one of many independent companies that bear the Mitsubishi name. Founded in the early 1870s as a steamship company by Yataro Iwasaki, the original ‘Mitsubishi’ grew into a collection of companies engaged in most sectors of the Japanese economy. After World War II, the Mitsubishi holdings were broken up into over 40 independent companies, many of which still bear the Mitsubishi name.
Mitsubishi Corporation is a shareholder in Isuzu Motors and is also a partner with Isuzu Motors in Tri Petch Isuzu Sales Co Ltd, the company that was established in 1974 to produce Isuzu D-Max pick-ups and wagons in Thailand.
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