Initially planned for unveiling next year, the Japanese marque’s Senior Vice President of Technical Operations, Dominic Rimmer, announced at a virtual media briefing on Tuesday (22 September) that while delivery of nine so-called ‘integration’ models were taken last week, the impact of the pandemic, together with fine tuning for local and export markets, has forced it to postpone the newcomer’s introduction by a few months.
“Covid-19 has not only slowed us down in South Africa but also in key markets [in terms of supply and tooling], so we are trying to catch-up. The intention is to launch [the D-Max] in early 2022, the original plan was at the back-end of 2021 but Covid-19 has had an impact and we have had to retime it,” Rimmer said.
“We are [however] working hard to execute the programme in the time that is available. But we want to make sure that when we launch it, it is right. There is no point in launching it early if it does not meet the South African or African customer requirements, hence when we do go to market, the vehicle is what customers want”.
In a follow-up statement, Rimmer stated that the D-Max, which went on sale in Thailand last year and earlier this year in Australia, will come with a number of features bespoke to South Africa, such as the loadbox made from thicker steel, different suspension and dampers, new wiring harness, accessories, all-terrain tyres and a revised axle plus diff-lock.
“There is a big level of excitement around the new D-Max and what we are known for is local engineering, so we don’t want to shortcut that. We want to ensure that when the product is launched, it is launched at the quality our customers and consumers are accustomed to,” Isuzu Motors South Africa CEO and Managing Director, Billy Tom said during the meeting.
Despite the launch of several new automatic variants of the D-Max in February , as well as the introduction of the ever popular X-Rider trim grade on the range-topping 3.0-litre model plus the updated MU-X, Rimmer, responding to a question, ruled-out the possibility of a sub-D-Max model happening as discussions on the matter have resulted in there being no interest. In addition, an Extended Cab X-Rider derivative will return as of the part of the line-up next month due to the moniker’s ongoing popularity and increasing demand, while a smaller SUV below the MU-X has already been ruled-out.