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Isuzu formerly sold vehicles in the U.S. and is introducing a midsize EV pickup called D-Max. The timing should be right, except for the “not in the U.S. anymore” scenario. So what is it, and is there any way it could make it to American soil? 

The D-Max, a refresh of the long-standing pickup truck, has been around for a long time. But this time, it is all-electric. “Isuzu is actively making efforts to realize a carbon-neutral society,” says Isuzu president Shinsuke Minami at its unveiling in Thailand. “Going forward, Isuzu plans to produce a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) pickup truck in Thailand.” But it first will land in Europe, “and then gradually roll out by meeting market needs.”

Did Isuzu share D-Max truck platforms in the past?

2024 Isuzu D-Max EV pickup with sailboard on top
2024 Isuzu D-Max EV pickup | Isuzu

The Isuzu D-Max is one of its most popular products, selling worldwide except in North America. Last year, it sold over 340,000 trucks worldwide. The only competitor to the D-Max EV is the Geely Radar R6, built in China. 

But Toyota plans to launch its own EV pickup, an electrified Hilux. Why aren’t we getting them here? And could another manufacturer already selling vehicles here rebrand the D-Max? Because that’s what it did in the 1970s.

Were the D-Max and Chevrolet Colorado the same truck?

Blue 1973 Chevrolet LUV truck in studio
1973 Chevrolet LUV truck | GM

If you remember the Chevrolet LUV trucks, you remember the first Isuzu-built vehicle sold in the U.S. But GM’s connections to Isuzu began in the 1920s. Some GM vehicles were sold through Isuzu dealerships in Japan. The Chevy Chevette and Isuzu Gemini were the same vehicles, with those companies co-producing the small cars starting in 1974. 

By 1981, it sold Isuzu brand vehicles in America, cobranding GM’s Geo Storm and Isuzu Impulse. But by 1993, it was shifting gears to cobranding with Honda, not GM. The Isuzu Rodeo became the Honda Passport, while Isuzu sold Honda’s Odyssey as the Oasis. 

But in 2001, Honda and Isuzu mutually ended their vehicle-sharing agreement. Then, in 2008, Isuzu left the North American sector for good. Then, starting in 2011, the Isuzu D-Max was a coproduction of GM and Isuzu, which Chevrolet sold as the Colorado. 

Do Isuzu and Mazda share the previous D-Max now?

Silver 2024 Isuzu D-Max EV pickup slogging through mud
2024 Isuzu D-Max EV pickup | Isuzu

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But Isuzu went its own way in 2019 with its own third-generation D-Max. Then, it partnered with Mazda, which sold it as the BT-50 pickup. That gives you some of the background for Isuzu’s past vehicle-sharing arrangements. 

Could it happen again with the Isuzu D-Max EV? Probably not, though it has a long history of doing so right up to today. While all automakers know they need smaller EV trucks moving forward, Isuzu would seem to be in the driver’s seat with the right product at the right time.    

Could Mazda or Honda give it a shot? And Toyota holds a five-percent stake in Isuzu, being its third largest investor, according to JapanTimes. So you can imagine how this could work, right?