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Why Don't They Sell It Here? Mazda BT-50

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Mazda BT-50, Ford Ranger
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Why Don't They Sell It Here? Mazda BT-50

Bill Crittenden
June 9, 2014

Patrons of the American automotive market might not realize that Mazda and Ford still collaborate on a pickup truck.  Heck, a lot of Americans don't know that Ford still makes a Ranger!

The current Ford Ranger is similar to the Honda Ridgeline in size and utility.  Made for the world market, it's a solidly built, comfortably appointed truck that ends up costing as much as an F-150 but isn't as big.  Having encountered confused consumers with this formula before (1990's Ford Contour), I can't blame them for not cluttering their showrooms with a truck they may see as redundant, with a narrow possible market and low sales expectations.

But Mazda's version of the truck, the BT-50, is a truck unlike anything on the American market.  Designed in the previous, pre-Kodo style of Mazda, it looks similar to the CX-9 crossover, but with a bed on the back.  The wide taillights even still resemble the CX-9's, even though that carries them over onto the tailgate!  This rare styling touch is behind a flowing front fender style that is more like the 6 and CX-7's design.

Mazda doesn't have a cluttered showroom, and it's enjoying a big upswing in popularity lately.  They serve a bit different of a market than Ford, drivers who are more style and performance conscious and less of the strict bargain-hunter type, they're willing to pay a little extra for a unique, quality performance-oriented vehicle.  What's a narrow market to Ford just may be worthwhile for a lower volume brand like Mazda, but without Ford's backing a U.S. version of the Ranger it probably isn't worth the expense of conversion and testing.  That's too bad, the BT-50 could be marketed as a better styled and more fun alternative to the oddly styled and aging Honda Ridgeline.

I miss having a pickup truck, and if I had just a bit more money coming in I could promise Mazda at least one sale...

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