Going to miss the Australian International Motor Show in October? Too bad, because you’ll miss the debut of the all-new Mazda BT-50 pickup truck Mazda announced today.
On the other hand, we here in the States will miss the new BT-50 pickup altogether as Mazda has been out of the pickup business in the U.S. since last year, and even when it was–at least since 1994, it was selling a Mazda-badged version of the Ford Ranger.
Sales of foreign-made trucks in the U.S. have been limited by the so-called “chicken tax”, a retaliatory tariff on trucks imposed after European Common Market countries slapped a punitive tariff on chickens from the U.S. The United States had allowed Japanese companies to skirt paying duties for many years because there were no compact pickups made here and we weren’t mad at them. When that grace ended, however, the 25 percent tariff made importing Japanese-built trucks prohibitively expensive, and Japanese-branded pickups became U.S.-built instead of the other way around.
Which is why the new Mazda BT-50 pickup is moot for American truckers.
But since you’re here, the sketches provided by Mazda as a preview show a truck influenced by Mazda’s recently abandoned Nagare styling concept with a grille strongly reminiscent of the Mazda Mazda3’s.
Mazda bills the new BT-50 pickup as an “‘active lifestyle vehicle’ that overturns the conventional image of a compact pickup truck with modern and refined styling” that was “developed from the ground up as a brand new type of vehicle.”
Mazda provided no substantive details about the new Mazda BT-50 pickup, limiting the tease to the usual p.r./marketing buzz speak: “The exterior design features crisp lines that owners will look on with pride; an imposing presence that indicates reliability; sculptured beauty like an athlete’s finely muscled body; and sporty and dynamic forms.”
The drawings look intriguing but then stylist sketches always do.
Barring the chicken tax, however, could the new Mazda BT-50 pickup find an American home? It’s not likely, as compact pickups have faced hard times here. The step up in price to a full-sized pickup isn’t great but the overall utility is. With the tax, which there is no great pressure to repeal, the new Mazda BT-50 pickup doesn’t stand a kangaroo’s chance in Kansas of coming here. And really, it won’t be missed by just about everyone.
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