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Ford ‘greed’ drove Mazda to Isuzu tie-up

No deal: Mazda has cited the rising cost per unit of sourcing its BT-50 from Ford as the reason it has switched to Isuzu and its D-Max.

Prohibitive cost after ‘divorce’ made Ranger-based BT-50 untenable for Mazda

4 Sep 2017


A MASSIVE increase in the cost per unit of the existing BT-50 pick-up truck was the reason Mazda decided to end its long light-truck association with the Ford Motor Company.

According to one senior Mazda Motor Corporation (MMC) executive, who preferred to remain nameless, the price per unit of the BT-50 launched in late 2011 – and based on the T6 Ranger designed and engineered in Melbourne and Geelong – had risen significantly as well as unreasonably after Ford sold its controlling interest in late 2008.

It is understood that this was some period of time after the T6 parameters were agreed upon between the two companies, meaning that the price-per-unit jump was not expected or foreseen by MMC.

“The divorce from Ford meant the cost went from down there to up here,” our MMC source gestured. “It had just become too expensive, so we had to look somewhere else for the next BT-50… and Isuzu was it. And Ford didn’t seem to care.”

As with the T6 agreement, the Mazda-Isuzu tie-up is for a 10-year period and does not extend to any further collaboration. The production version is due to be revealed by 2021.

Mazda’s relationship with Ford dates back to the US-market Ford Courier of 1972, which was a rebadged version of the second-generation Mazda B-Series light truck that ran from 1965 to 1977.

Strong North American demand of the Courier proved to be Mazda’s financial lifeline after sales of rotary-powered passenger cars such as the Mazda RX4 plummeted in the aftermath of the 1973 oil-supply crisis, leading to Ford obtaining a seven per cent share in Toyo Kogyo in 1979. That rose gradually to 33.4 per cent by 1996 (until the 2008 sell-off) as Mazda encountered various further economic difficulties.

The B-Series/Courier tie-up continued through four generations, switching to the BT-50/Ranger nameplates respectively in 2006, and will last up until the contract expires at the beginning of the next decade.

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