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Frankfurt show: Mazda Australia says BT-50 to stay

Core blimey: The Mazda BT-50 is here to stay, according to key executives from Mazda in Japan and Australia.

‘Core model’ BT-50 one-tonner not in danger of dropping out of range: Mazda

Mazda logo17 Sep 2015

By RON HAMMERTON in FRANKFURT

MAZDA’S BT-50 ute is in no danger of being discontinued, according to Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak.

While he said he did not know if the model-sharing arrangement with Ford would continue beyond the current second generation that still has several years to run, he said Mazda Motors Corporation regard the one-tonner as a core product and thus assured of a future.

Mr Doak’s comments at the Frankfurt motor show came on the heels of speculation that a Mazda-Toyota technology exchange agreement could lead to a switch to Toyota HiLux as the donor vehicle for the next BT-50.

This scenario was not ruled out by Mazda’s global sales and marketing managing executive officer Masahiro Moro when the question was raised by Australian journalists at Frankfurt this week.

Likewise, no Mazda executive is saying definitively that the Ford arrangement – under which the BT-50 is based on the Australian-developed Ford Ranger – will continue.

The subject is clearly sensitive, with no party wanting to ruffle feathers, indicating that negotiations are most likely underway at a high level between all the corporations.

Mr Doak said that while Europe had discontinued BT-50 sales, Australia, Thailand and other substantial markets were committed to the ute for the long term“We also have some other markets within the Mazda family talking about taking BT-50, so there is a good chance the number of countries taking it will grow into the future,” he said.

“The bottom line is that is core, and the senior management at Mazda Motor Corporation acknowledge that and BT is here to stay.”

If Mazda did switch to Toyota sourcing for BT-50, it would raise the question of the future of Mazda’s jointly owned plant with Ford in Thailand.

However, if Toyota produced BT-50 at its HiLux plant, the BT-50 would continue to come from Thailand.

Mazda is just about to release a mildly facelifted version of the BT-50 this month.

In Australia, BT-50 sales this year are up by 9.1 per cent, to 9488 units, at the end of August – well outstripping the market segment.

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