Mazda Australia says news that its parent company will develop the next BT-50 pickup ute with Isuzu, instead of Ford, has been met with universally strong support from its dealer network and other key stakeholders.
As we reported a few weeks ago, the two Japanese companies announced a basic agreement that will see Isuzu produce the next generation Mazda ute, based on Isuzu’s D-Max, with input from both. Isuzu and current partner General Motors recently announced they would end ties in this market segment, as Mazda is expected to with Ford.
Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak, speaking at the launch of the updated Mazda 3 range in Brisbane this week, told us that feedback from dealer partners — some of whom are also Isuzu franchise partners — had been positive.
“It’s been very good actually, our dealers have been very positive, as the press have been. A couple of our dealers do Isuzu currently as well, and their feedback is that it’s a good ute, the quality is there,” he said.
“We are very keen to ensure that BT-50 remains a cornerstone of our line-up and we think this decision ensures that’ll happen,” he added.
Timelines would suggest this new pickup won’t arrive until 2020 or so, given the traditionally long life cycles of light commercials.
While the BT-50 is outsold by its Ranger twin 3:1, and by others such as the Toyota HiLux, Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Colorado and, indeed, the Isuzu D-Max, it remains Mazda's fourth most popular model, and a lynchpin of its sales.
Mazda Australia is also a key strategic market globally, and we understand it will play some sort of role in the global development of the next-generation BT-50.
The deal between Mazda and Isuzu will give the latter greater scale and therefore it will be able to spend more keeping the next D-Max modern, while Mazda will be able to remain strong in core markets, again including Australia.
Mazda executives have always said that the only way it could make a ute such as the BT-50 viable was to use another brand’s architecture.
The deal also continues the trend of big car-makers sharing platforms. As we know, Renault and Mercedes-Benz are making utes spun off the Nissan NP300 Navara, a model which is also tipped to be the platform source for the next Mitsubishi Triton.