Despite Mazda’s presence in the US and range of vehicles it produces it won’t offer this midsize pickup in the US. Every company outside of the US that plans on selling pickup trucks here must manufacture them in the US. That’s because of the chicken tax tariff that goes back to the 1960s.
The tax was imposed in 1964 after France and Germany placed tariffs on chicken imported to them from the US. You could call it tit-for-tat. So, if you want to sell your pickup in the US you must manufacture it here.
There are a number of pickup trucks around the world this applies to. Some, like the Mazda BT-50 would find a receptive response if it did produce it here. With Mazda being smaller than either Toyota and Nissan, the costs involved may not be available for producing another vehicle here. Let’s find out more about this tantalizing truck.
What’s Under The Mazda Pickup’s Skin?
Called the BT-50, this is a Mazda in body only. Under the sheetmetal is a Ford Ranger pickup. Mazda is said to base the replacement for this pickup with Isuzu and its D-Max pickup. And, just to add some confusion, Isuzu and General Motors co-developed the diesel engines found in the current Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize GM trucks.
Mazda’s truck relationship with Ford goes back to the Ford Courier mini-truck which was a rebadged Mazda pickup. Then, in a reversal, Mazda offered the Ford rebadged B2000 mini-truck as a replacement.
Though getting a refresh in 2014 the current Mazda pickup is from 2010. The BT-50 sees duty in Asia, Australia, and some African countries.
The BT-50 is powered by a base 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel or a 3.2-liter five-cylinder turbo-diesel each mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A manual six-speed is also available with the 2.2-liter engine. The four-wheel-drive version has an electric-engaged system with low-range and locking rear diff.
Mazda changes things up from the Ranger with its own suspension tune and hydraulic steering while the Ranger features electric steering. The BT-50 might lag behind with none of the current safety features like lane control and braking, it does include a rearview camera and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Of course, leather interiors, power-folding mirrors, and other premium features can be found in the BT-50. The Mazda truck is honest transportation, but it’s not like driving a stripper.
What’s The BT-50 Competition?
Single- and double-cab body styles are offered to stay comparable with the competition. In Australia, that competition is the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, and Toyota Hilux which is the top-selling vehicle there. The Mazda BT-50 runs a distant third behind the Ranger and Hilux.
At one time Mazda found it necessary to spread its assembly plant dollars to the building of a pickup in the US. With the midsize pickup segment being so hot and no end in sight it is curious that Mazda doesn’t offer its own. Maybe the alliance with Isuzu means a pickup for the US is in the offing as Isuzu no longer sells vehicles here. Time will tell.