The next Mazda BT-50 has started it development process, but the replacement for the current generation ute won’t surface until after 2020, potentially making it the oldest in its class.
Mazda’s next BT-50 will switch from its current co-development program as a derivative of the Ford Ranger, with Isuzu leading the engineering program for the new ute, which will share key hardware with the next D-Max.
Vinesh Bhindi, managing director for Mazda Australia, says the BT-50 won’t be replaced until “post 2020” and that the existing car will remain relatively unchanged until then.
“The current BT-50 is here to stay until we are ready to launch the next generation,” he said.
“We don’t have any plans for updates at this stage, no.”
Sales to the end of November see the BT-50 trailing key rivals, particularly the sales of 4x4 version with the Mazda selling less than a quarter of the volume of Ford’s Ranger 4x4.
While Mazda sits in seventh place of the 4x4 charts 4x2 ute sales see the BT-50 hold third position, only 600 units behind the second-placed Ranger, but still less than half the sales of the top-selling HiLux 4x2.
Bhindi does not see the BT-50 as an underperforming element of the Mazda showroom.
“That’s not how we look at it,” he said.
“Our business is private buyers - mums and dads.”
“While Ranger, and to a certain extent HiLux, fight it out with fleets, governments, we don’t play that game.”
“The numbers don’t reflect all of that.”
Bhindi says Mazda wants more sales volume from the BT-50, which is losing ground in a growing segment, but that the brand is after “more from mums and dads” – not fleets.
That might prove difficult in the next 12 months, as Ford and Holden are set to benefit from performance versions of the Ranger and Colorado likely to boost the profile of regular models, and the Mercedes-Benz X-Class is just around the corner.
Mazda’s ute has been criticised in the past for its softer styling which follows the guidelines established by the brand’s previous generation of passengers cars and SUVs, all of which have since been replaced by newer models.
The BT-50’s grinning school of design will be two generations old by the time a new car arrives.
Mazda design director Julien Montousse says the BT-50’s look could skip a generation by the time the new model arrives, taking its appearance from the Kodo 2 design theme previewed by the Mazda Kai concept shown at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show and which forecasts the look of the next Mazda3.
“The application of the front face, for sure... we can apply design process, but it doesn’t mean we are going to change the silhouette of the pick-up and make it super fast and sporty, giving up on the practicality,” he says.
“The pick-up truck has a different task to all the other cars at Mazda which are meant to be sports-inspired type of body style. The truck is meant to be very capable, very rough and sturdy.
“We gave up the smile a while back and we want a front face that is a lot more assertive – even if it is the pickup.”
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