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LA show: Kodo a challenge for next Mazda BT-50

Face up: The next BT-50 could share design cues – at the front at least – with models such as the CX-9.

Mazda is looking at Kodo front end for next-gen BT-50 pick-up

Mazda logo30 Nov 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in LOS ANGELES

MAZDA’S design chief says the next-generation BT-50 could adopt the latest iteration of the company’s Kodo design language, but with a more masculine edge.
 
As the next BT-50 continues to take shape, the company is busy working on the design of the pick-up that will share its underpinnings with the next-gen Isuzu D-Max.
 
The current-generation BT-50, which launched in late 2011, was criticised for its soft design cues that were inspired by the company’s previous design language. Mazda has since applied two facelifts to the BT-50 to give it a more butch look.
 
Speaking with Australian journalists at the Los Angeles motor show, Mazda Motor Corporation managing executive officer and head of design and brand style Ikuo Maeda confirmed that the BT-50 will have a design that is distinct from the D-Max.
 
“I think so. It will have to,” he said.
 
Mr Maeda said that there are challenges with adapting the latest Kodo cues to a pick-up body style.
 
“The rear area of the truck, it may be very difficult to give this kind of design.”
 
But when asked if it was feasible to use the styling for the front of a pick-up, he said: “I would like to try.”
 
He added that his personal preference was for a tough-looking pick-up.
 
“I myself think if it is a truck, it should look masculine and strong, which is really a truck.”
 
Mr Maeda said that some of the elements of the latest evolution of Kodo – including the clean surfaces that reflect light – might not fit with a pick-up.
 
“It may be difficult to apply with this kind of design with light reflection (that) maybe keeps moving, but for a family face, maybe we can apply a similar family face to a truck.
 
“Maybe for a large-size vehicle we might want to control the movement of the surface reflections a little bit, just to hold it down.”
 
The Mazda3 – revealed at this week’s LA motor show – is the latest example of new Kodo, and this overall philosophy was previewed with the Vision Coupe concept from last year’s Tokyo motor show.
 
Timing is still unclear for the next BT-50 – and the D-Max donor vehicle – but it could surface in 2021.
 
As reported, Mazda signed an agreement with Isuzu in 2016 to develop and build the next BT-50, but Mazda has had some engineering involvement as well.
 
The current BT-50 was a co-development between Mazda and its former financial partner Ford, with both the BT-50 and the Ranger designed and engineered in Australia.
 
Ford has since signed an agreement with Volkswagen to work on the next-generation light-commercial vehicles, which is believed to include the Amarok.
 
Meanwhile, MMC president and CEO Akira Marumoto has ruled out an expansion of Mazda’s light-commercial vehicle line-up beyond the BT-50.
 
“Since we are pursuing driving pleasure, what you said is low priority,” he told Australian journalists in LA this week.
 
Mazda has previously offered light vans and small trucks in several international markets, including Australia.

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