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Isuzu chasing Prado with second-gen MU-X

Dynamic duo: The success of Isuzu’s D-Max and segment-leading features of the new MU-X could earn the brand a permanent top-10 spot in Australia’s sales charts.

New Isuzu MU-X hoped to erode Prado segment share with at least 12,000 sales a year

29 Jul 2021

ISUZU Ute Australia (IUA) is quietly confident that its second-generation MU-X seven-seat SUV will help it make regular appearances in the nation’s top 10 best-selling vehicle brands and expects the new model will continue to occupy second spot in the large SUV segment.


On sale from August 2 with six variants spanning a price range of $47,900-$65,900 before on-road costs, the new MU-X has risen in price by between $2700 and $9800 depending on variant but now outguns many in its segment in terms of safety technology and towing capacity.


Like the D-Max ute on which it is based, the entire MU-X range packs a comprehensive suite of driver and active safety aids, as well as an airbag between front-seat occupants among the eight fitted as standard.


A 3.5-tonne braked towing capacity with 350kg maximum tow ball download rating trumps all body-on-frame rivals bar the SsangYong Rexton, which it matches, while diesel and 5.7-litre petrol V8 variants of the Jeep Grand Cherokee also offer the same capability.


This could help IUA steal a few sales from the upper large SUV segment – the Nissan Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser – or tempt those with heavy towing needs out of dual-cab utes.


Several luxury large SUVs can also tow 3.5 tonnes, including the Volkswagen Touareg, Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz GLE, providing another potential target for conquest sales.


During an online media conference, IUA general manager of sales Ben Jaeger said the MU-X was expected to remain Australia’s top-selling ute-based SUV, maintain its current position as second most-popular large SUV overall and capture additional market share from the segment-dominating Toyota LandCruiser Prado.


“If we're not doing more than 1000 units per month, I guess we’ll be disappointed,” he said.


A result of 12,000 MU-X sales per year would represent a 32 per cent increase over the previous model’s 2018 high watermark, when 9090 examples were delivered.


Combined with the year-to-date run-rate of the D-Max at 2300 units per month, this would position IUA for around 40,000 annual deliveries with just two models on offer, potentially securing a position among more established brands in Australia’s top 10, all with line-ups consisting of five or more vehicle choices.


Mr Jaeger described the large SUV segment as “interesting” for pitching ruggedised passenger cars such as the Subaru Outback and VW Passat Alltrack against both bitumen-biased SUVs such as the Toyota Kluger and “proper 4x4 wagons” like the MU-X.


“We’d love to hold onto number two (in the segment sales charts), I guess it will be a really hard fight – as it always is among manufacturers – but that number two position is what we are chasing,” he said.


To the end of June this year, IUA delivered 5000 units of the outgoing MU-X, earning it an 8.6 per cent segment share, while the Prado outsold it more than two to one, with 10,171 deliveries and a 17.6 per cent share.


Subaru’s Outback was not far behind the Isuzu, with 4820 units netting an 8.3 per cent share.


Mr Jaeger singled out the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Ford Everest as key rivals for the new MU-X.


“We’re always comparing ourselves to Prado as well but – even though it’s a very well-established nameplate – with regards to conquest sales,” he added.


“This product does provide us with a lot more scope to be more competitive with a broader market and a broader customer type.”


Mr Jaeger said this, and the range-wide safety suite would also provide opportunities with government and rental fleets, an area in which he admitted IUA had not previously been strong.


The new model’s broader appeal is also expected to help lift sales in Melbourne and Sydney, where the previous MU-X had been less successful than in regional and rural areas, as well as smaller state capitals like Brisbane.


“We feel that this vehicle will appeal to people in those areas, especially the safety technology improvements, comfort levels and NVH levels and the aesthetics of the of the vehicle – and they’re large markets for that type of car as well,” Mr Jaeger said.


“We're very mindful of the vehicle has gone up in price, but we’re also quite confident that we priced it very competitively against some of those competitors I mentioned earlier.”

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