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Future models - Mazda - BT-50

Mazda pairs with Isuzu for next-gen pick-up

Locked in: Little is known about the next-gen BT-50 but it is believed that it will differ from the Isuzu model it will be based on.

Next-generation Mazda BT-50 to be shared with Isuzu D-Max/Holden Colorado

Mazda logo11 Jul 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON

MAZDA has put to rest speculation about the future of its BT-50 workhorse by announcing that its next-generation pick-up will be built by fellow Japanese manufacturer, Isuzu.

The basic agreement signed by the two auto-makers this week follows an earlier agreement between General Motors and Isuzu from late-2014 confirming that they would co-develop the next-generation D-Max and Chevrolet/Holden Colorado.

The Mazda deal means there will be three models – the D-Max, Colorado and BT-50 replacement – sharing basic underpinnings in a similar way to Nissan’s NP300 Navara which will form the basis for alliance partner Renault’s just revealed Alaskan and the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz pick-up, likely to be called GLT.

It is understood that the Mazda will have its own look to differentiate it from the Isuzu/Holden models in the competitive one-tonne pick-up market, but information on possible shared powertrains is unclear.

Mazda Australia senior manager of public relations Karla Leach told GoAuto that the agreement was in its “early days” and that more information would be revealed as it comes to hand.

“We will continue to work with the team in Japan as the relationship with Isuzu develops,” she said.

Mazda and Isuzu have been collaborating for more than 10 years, with Isuzu building commercial trucks for Mazda specifically for the Japanese domestic market.

In a statement, the two companies confirmed that Isuzu would produce the next-gen pick-up for Mazda based on its own pick-up, adding that the agreement would allow “Isuzu to enhance its product competiveness and Mazda to strengthen its product line-up and maintain own-brand market coverage”.

Little else is known about the future Mazda pick-up at this stage, but given the announcement has just been made, it is unlikely the next-gen BT-50 would surface before 2019.

Next-gen versions of the D-Max and the Colorado – which both date back to mid-2012 – will almost certainly beat the BT-50 to market. The Mazda BT-50 will be sold in all major global markets, excluding the United States.

There has been speculation surrounding the future of the BT-50 for about a year, with Mazda revealing as late as March this year that it had not locked down a partner to help it build a next-gen ute.

Given it signed a strategic partnership agreement with Toyota in March last year, many pundits had suggested the next Mazda pick-up would be based on Toyota’s new-gen HiLux that arrived late in 2015.

The current BT-50 was produced in collaboration with Ford’s Ranger, largely at its Australian operations in Geelong and Broadmeadows, but a second major collaboration seemed unlikely.

Mazda launched a facelifted version of the BT-50 in September last year, introducing minor styling changes and new comfort and safety tech.

So far this year Mazda has sold 7738 4x2 and 4x4 BT-50s, well behind the dominant HiLux (21,171) and Ranger (18,199) and also trailing the Colorado (9374) and D-Max (7962).

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