GM and Isuzu Split Over “Irreconcilable Differences” [UPDATE]

Update: Automotive News is reporting General Motors is now focusing “on the higher end of the market while the Japanese firm sticks to selling vehicles for everyday commercial purposes,” strongly hinting that GM is the one that broke off the collaboration. We’ve added detail below.

After announcing a new bromance with Mazda just over a week ago, Isuzu is calling it quits with its old beau General Motors.

(Or maybe GM caught Isuzu cheating behind its back. Who knows? The relationship dynamics at play between automakers are difficult to flesh out.)

Regardless, midsize trucks — badged as both Isuzus and Chevrolets — will be no more in the Land of Smiles. The duo, which has a truck plant each in Thailand, will decouple their R&D efforts as they move toward engineering new global midsize pickups.

As part of the previous announcement, Mazda ended one of its last ties with former parent Ford. The Japanese company will instead work with Isuzu on its next BT pickup, which will become a rebadged version of the Isuzu D-Max. Since Isuzu now has a new willing partner in Mazda, the automaker that once gave GM all its LUV is parting ways with Detroit in the global pickup segment after more than a decade working together. The current Isuzu D-Max provides the basis for the global Chevrolet Colorado, which is structurally different from the one Chevrolet sells in North America.

“After detailed discussions with GM, we have agreed that we will continue pickup truck development on our own,” Isuzu said in statement, reported by Automotive News.

“Both GM and Isuzu agree that due to unique requirements for each company, joint development of the next-generation midsize pickup truck for GMI markets is no longer the optimal model for this project,” GM said in today’s statement.

From AN:

One GM executive said the “unique requirements” for GM are about the strategic shift it began making last year in Southeast Asia where it is now trying to focus more on competing in the higher end of the region’s truck and SUV markets.

Despite the obvious benefits of collaborating on development such as sharing costs, the executive, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to discuss the move, said that GM had decided not to try to copy its Japanese rivals in Southeast Asia where brands like Isuzu, Toyota Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. dominate.

“It doesn’t make sense for us trying to copy the business strategy of the Japanese rivals in Southeast Asia,” the executive said.

Domestically, Isuzu and GM announced they’d be working together to launch GM back into the medium-duty market with a new line of cabover trucks. Six new models will be available in the U.S. – Chevrolet 3500, 3500HD, 4500, 4500HD, 5500 and 5500 HD – all based on the Isuzu N-Series.

The change in Japan’s pickup strategy leaves GM and Ford to fend on their own outside of North America — unless they can figure out a way to work together.

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