Japanese auto manufacturer Isuzu plans to introduce the D-Max pickup trucks range in the Indian auto market at a price range of Rs. 6.87 lakhs to Rs. 8.09 lakhs. The launch of a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) called MU7 for Rs. 23.75 lakhs is also on the cards of auto maker. With the launches of new models, Isuzu wishes to enter the country with a slew of Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) and SUVs.
In order to produce the above mentioned vehicles, the company has planned to set up a manufacturing plant in South India that would have an annual capacity of 1 lakh units. However, there are no clear indications about when this plant will be set up. Speaking about the plant's inauguration, Isuzu Motors India Private Limited Deputy Managing Director Shigeru Wakabayashi said, “We are in final stages of evaluation and will soon take a decision on setting up of a plant in India. We are looking to set up a factory in South India.” Dealerships would be opened in Hyderabad and Coimbatore.
Wakabayashi also said that it would take around three to five years for the plant to be established and become operational in India. Investment for the plant has not been finalised as yet. However, till the time this plant becomes operational, vehicles will be imported from Thailand, which is one of the world's largest pick up vehicle markets. Wakabayashi said, “We will be launching our SUV MU7 and two pick-up trucks from the D-Max range in the South Indian market first. We are using the opportunity to study customer response and preference for our products.” The Mu-7 is expected to take on the competition from the popular Toyota Fortuner, which is currently dominating the segment.
While Isuzu's initial focus would be the Indian market, it would subsequently look to create a presence in other Asian markets as well, such as Sril Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. This would be achieved by using India as the exporting base, in addition to the launch proposed vehicles. The company would also look at the option of building vehicles exclusively for the Indian market. Interestingly, Wagabayashi feels that the Indian market could outpace the Chinese space in terms of growth in future and become the world's second largest passenger car market. He also believes that majority of the Indian population is rural and engages in agriculture for whom pick up trucks would be suitable.
Experts believe that there is incredible potential in the Indian market for pick up vehicles. At present, the Mahindra Genio, Mahindra Scorpio Getaway and the Tata Xenon are the only pick up vehicles offered in the Indian market. The launch of Isuzu Mu-7 would be able to offer some more variety in this segment of vehicles.