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RIP Mazda BT-50

The Mazda BT-50’s time on the market has officially come to an end, as the company has announced that it has ended the production and importation of the vehicle for South Africa.

Mazda South Africa cited mixed sales as the reason for the bakkie’s discontinuation, stating that it has not made the inroads it had hoped to into our extremely competitive double-cab market, especially against brands that manufacture locally.

Farewell BT-50

The BT-50 has struggled to find a mass following since day one owing to the highly populated mid-size bakkie segment filled with locally-made options like the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux, and VW Amarok.

To put things in perspective: the Hilux, Ranger, and D-Max sold 37,382 units, 24,618 units, and 18,962 units in 2023, respectively, while the BT-50 placed last on the year’s best-seller list with just 69 units – an average of less than six units per month.

This trend continued into 2024, as the first two months of the year only saw 15 sales each compared to the thousands of purchases recorded by other brands.

Initially launched in 2008, the BT-50 was a replacement for Mazda’s successful B-series of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) and was previously made in an alliance with Ford Motor Company South Africa at its Silverton factory in Pretoria.

The current generation was introduced in 2021 and is imported from Thailand as part of an arrangement with Isuzu, but these conditions have made it hard for the double cab to gain a foothold in the local market.

“The South African LCV, and in particular the double-cab market, is extremely well developed and competitive with locally manufactured brands and nameplates dominating sales,” said Craig Roberts, MD of Mazda South Africa.

“This factor, as well as an extremely challenging landscape for imported vehicles, competing directly with locally manufactured products, has led Mazda SA to make this difficult decision.”

The carmaker has confirmed that the current inventory at dealerships will be the last available BT-50 units for retail and that no further imports will be brought to the country.

All existing models, including current and previous generations, with a warranty and service plan that is still intact will continue to be supported by Mazda’s dealership network, including services, repairs, and part replacements.

For those who may be interested in picking up the bakkie before it disappears from storefronts, the vehicle has four specifications with prices ranging from R630,400 to R818,400.

The base Active models use a rear-wheel-drive setup and either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox, which connects to a 1.9-litre, turbocharged diesel engine generating 110kW and 350Nm.

The mid-range Dynamic and range-topping Individual both feature a 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel plant with 140kW and 450Nm and a six-speed automatic shifter, with the only difference being that the Individual connects to all four wheels instead of two.


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