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Mazda discontinues BT-50 ute in New Zealand

Declining BT-50 sales prompt Mazda New Zealand to axe ute from local portfolio

26 Feb 2024

MAZDA Motors of New Zealand has decided to axe its slow-selling BT-50 ute range from the end of this year, ending a 58-year run for the Japanese brand’s Kiwi light commercial entrant.


NZ publication Stuff reports that the remaining inventory of BT-50s – estimated to be several months’ worth – will be the last imported to the country.


According to a Mazda Motors of NZ spokesperson, the decision to discontinue the BT-50 was a result not only of the model’s dwindling sales but a knock-on effect of the country’s now-axed Clean Car Discount (which funneled levies on high-emitting vehicles into subsidies for models with a smaller carbon footprint).


“The conclusion of the BT-50 is certainly the end of an era for Mazda in New Zealand,” said Mazda Motors of New Zealand managing director David Hodge.


“Undeniably, the market changed significantly over the past few years. The move towards SUVs, a greater uptake of electrified vehicles, and most recently the Clean Car Discount program have all influenced customer tastes.”


The NZ government recently decided to drop the Clean Car Discount program meaning light commercial vehicles such as the Mazda BT-50 will no longer incur emissions levies.


As is the case in Australia, sales of the BT-50 in New Zealand have struggled to keep pace with the likes of the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux.


As reported by GoAuto, sales of the BT-50 in New Zealand fell to just 347 units across the 2023 calendar year, the model accounting for less than six per cent of Mazda’s total national sales.


Conversely, utility rivals including the Ford Ranger (9907 sales in 2023), Toyota HiLux (8054), Mitsubishi Triton (3105), Nissan Navara (1143) and twin-under-the-skin Isuzu D-Max (1035) sold in strong numbers, bringing into question the price and positioning of Mazda’s light commercial offering.


By way of comparison, Mazda Australia sold a total of 17,886 BT-50s locally across 2023, or 45,470 units fewer than first-placed Ford Ranger.


Mazda has offered a utility model in New Zealand since 1966 when it introduced the B-Series (later Bounty). The vehicle was assembled by Steel’s Motor Assemblies from a CKD kit.


Later – and as in Australia – the B-Series shared platforms with the Ford Courier before being renamed as the BT-50 in 2006. Mazda continued its relationship with Ford until the introduction of the most recent BT-50 generation, for which it partnered with Isuzu.


Mazda Australia says it will not follow its counterparts across the ditch in cancelling the BT-50 Down Under.

Top 10 New Zealand sales by Model (2023 light commercial):





Ford Ranger



Toyota HiLux



Mitsubishi Triton



Toyota HiAce



Nissan Navara



Isuzu D-Max



Ford Transit



Mercedes-Benz Sprinter



Toyota LandCruiser



Isuzu F Series




*All figures are supplied courtesy of the Motor Industry Association of New Zealand.

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