‘Mazuzu’ bakkie is com­ing your way

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

MAZDA and Isuzu have an­nounced a ba­sic agree­ment to base the next Mazda BT-50 bakkie on the Isuzu D-Max.

The com­pa­nies did not an­nounce when the co-op­er­a­tion will start, but as the Isuzu plants will have to be changed to build the Mazda bakkies, pun­dits in the auto trade pre­dict it will take two years be­fore the first “Mazuzu” comes off the as­sem­bly lines.

The same pun­dits pre­dict the bakkie may not be built in Port El­iz­a­beth, but rather in Thai­land.

In a short state­ment, the com­pa­nies said the col­lab­o­ra­tion will al­low Isuzu to en­hance its prod­uct com­pet­i­tive­ness and Mazda to strengthen its prod­uct line-up and main­tain own-brand mar­ket cov­er­age.

The bakkies will be go­ing on sale world­wide ex­cept in North Amer­ica, where the Yanks pre­fer gi­ant utes to our puny bakkies.

This is not the first such col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the two gi­ant Ja­panese groups. For a decade from 2002, Mazda sold a re­branded Isuzu truck as the Ti­tan in the mid and Far East.

And with bakkies all look­ing alike these days, it will not be the last we see of such badge-en­gi­neered chas­sis shar­ing ei­ther. The Nis­san Navara will form the un­der­pin­ning of both a Merc as well as a Re­nault one-ton bakkie, while Fiat launched its Mit­subishi Tri­ton-based Full­back in South Africa this month.

Mean­while, Mazda re­ported that the BT-50 now ac­counts for around six per­cent of to­tal sales year to date, with the Mazda CX-5 and the Mazda3, Mazda’s big­gest sell­ers, with 55% of the sales vol­ume com­bined, while the pop­u­lar Mazda2 and newly in­tro­duced Mazda CX-3 take up just un­der 40% of the sales vol­ume com­bined.

“The mar­ket con­di­tions un­der which we started 2016 have al­tered and as we head into the sec­ond half of the year, we’ll con­tinue to work with our dealer busi­ness part­ners with the aim to main­tain mo­men­tum and cap­ture our po­ten­tial share of what the mar­ket de­liv­ers,” said Mazda SA’s head of sales Craig Roberts in a state­ment.

Mazda South­ern Africa dis­trib­utes through 50 deal­ers and will open an­other two deal­er­ships by the end of this year.

PHOTO: WIKIPEDIA

Mazda and Isuzu will again col­lab­o­rate like they did when Mazda sold this Isuzu truck as the Ti­tan in 2002, but this time it will be a Mazda-Isuzu bakkie.

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