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Tough act to follow

Friday, August 24, 2012    

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WITH 40 years of pickup history and two million first generation D-Max units sold worldwide, Yasuhiro Okame, the man Isuzu charged with creating the 2012 model, didn't have an easy task on hand.

"I joined the original D-Max team as a designer," Okame told Auto. "That first model was a difficult job as we were rewriting what was expected from an Isuzu pickup as well as working within the demands of the joint development with General Motors."

Okame was modest about his part in the success of the original D-Max whose unit sales are a third of Isuzu's total pickup sales from 1972. The 10-year run of the first-generation model was not intentional.

Given the success of its predecessor, Okame went all out, generating over 3,000 design sketches, and six full-sized clay models, when the industry standard is one. Once the styling direction was finalised, Mother Nature would unfortunately step in to halt the project.

"After the facelift model we started work on the new D-Max; however, late in the project Japan was struck by the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Further delays were had when Thailand experienced major flooding, setting us back in total around two years," he explained.

In the end, the D-Max debuted in Thailand to record-breaking sales performance.

Okame was tight-lipped about where he goes from here, but confirms his current focus is on the expected mid-model updates, and working on the usual chassis variants such as a SUV.

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