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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Sayonara: Mazda BT-50 departs South Africa

Less of less than 100 units throughout 2023 as a result of price versus those of locally assembled models, has left Mazda with no option.

After an almost 12-month wait for its eventual South African market debut three years ago, Mazda has announced that the slow-selling BT-50 bakkie has been discontinued with immediate effect.

Never made the cut

Introduced four years ago as a joint venture model between Hiroshima and Isuzu after the former’s split from long-time parent Ford in 2015, the D-Max underpinned BT-50 has been a constant underperformer, with sales being below that of the Mitsubishi Triton, and rarely into double figures.

Based on the monthly National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) sales figures, a mere 69 units were sold throughout 2023, sans December, where no examples departed from one of Mazda’s 42 dealerships.

ALSO READ: Bumpy ride holds back new Mazda BT-50 in bakkie war

Renamed BT-50 from B-Series in 2006—the first generation was also the last to underpin the Ford Ranger before the arrival of the T6 platform, which saw a reversal take place—the BT-50’s departure also ends Mazda’s one-ton bakkie presence in South Africa, which the marque attributes to the cost of importation versus the locally made Toyota Hilux, D-Max, Nissan Navara, Mahindra Pik-Up, Ranger, and its Volkswagen twin, the Amarok.

Mazda BT-50 discontinued in South Africa
BT-50 sales, last year, topped at 69 units. Image: Mazda

“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,” Mazda Managing Director for South Africa, Craig Roberts, said in a statement.

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

Aftersales support remains

Solely offered as a double cab powered by the same 1.9-litre and 3.0-litre turbodiesel engines as the D-Max, the BT-50 also copped extensive criticism for its ride and pricing, which ranged from R611 900 for the entry-level 1.9 Active manual at launch to R794 400 for the range-topping 3.0 Individual 4×4 automatic.

Mazda BT-50 discontinued in South Africa
Interior sported a number of differences from the Isuzu D-Max. Image: Mazda

Since being removed from Mazda’s website, pricing for the four-model BT-50 range eventually topped out at R630 000 for the former and R818 800 for the latter, according to cars.co.za.

Describing the Thai-made BT-50 as having made “no inroads” into the local bakkie market, Mazda South Africa added it will continue to honour the three-year/unlimited km warranty and service plan, plus aftersales service at all of its dealers.

Withdrawal not exclusive

Withdrawn from New Zealand just over two weeks ago after sales totalled 347 units in 2023 versus a record 17 526 in Australia, where offset has always been strong, the BT-50 has already entered the run-out phase as sales this year alone have ballooned to 30 units in January and February.

Its departure leaves the Triton as the sole mainstream non-Chinese bakkie available, though Mitsubishi is expected to introduce the all-new generation later this year as part of its commitment to the local market.

Additional information from carsguide.com.au.

NOW READ: Finally here: Long awaited, all-new Mazda BT-50 priced

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