Isuzu Motors of Japan has confirmed it plans to invest R1,2-billion into its South African operations in order to produce the new-generation D-Max bakkie locally.

Revealed in Thailand in October 2019, the new D-Max is already being produced for export in that country. But now South Africa is set to join the party (although it's not yet clear when production is scheduled to switch from the outgoing model to the new one).

Isuzu Motors South Africa says, in addition to the firm’s aforementioned investment, total local content value of R2,8-billion will be generated through the lifecycle of the programme.

The automaker says it plans to grow annual bakkie production at its Struandale factory in Port Elizabeth to 29 000 units per annum.

“Our decision to invest in the production of the next-generation bakkie in South Africa demonstrates our commitment to this market,” said Yoichi Masuda, senior executive officer for Isuzu Motors Limited and chairman of the Isuzu Motors South Africa board.

Michael Sacke, CEO and managing director of Isuzu Motors SA, added the new D-Max would be “locally engineered to meet the requirements of the South African and key Sub-Saharan Africa markets”.

“Our customers have come to know our vehicles for their reliability, durability and flexibility and it is important that we continue to build on these strengths,” Sacke added.

The fresh-faced D-Max is powered by a “newly developed” version of the Japanese firm’s familiar 3,0-litre turbodiesel engine, with peak outputs hiked to 140 and 450 N.m. The next-generation Mazda BT-50 will, of course, share much with this new D-Max thanks to an agreement signed by the two companies in 2016.