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Mazda BT-50 PDF Print E-mail

ImageFord’s Ranger was reviewed in these pages recently, but its sister company Mazda – Ford controls Mazda although it does not in fact own a majority share – unveiled its own version of the one-ton pick-up at the Bangkok motor show, held at the end of March.  Previously known as the B2500, Mazda has decided to label the latest model the BT-50.

Rather long-windedly, general manager of Mazda’s Overseas Sales division, Malcolm Gough says: “In line with Mazda’s global alphanumeric nomenclature strategy, we have named the new truck range BT-50, a global name that will be used in all markets.”

With new three liter and 2.5 liter common-rail, direct injection turbo diesel engines, the Mazda truck delivers, says its makers “an exciting blend of sophisticated design, refinement, responsive handling and dynamic performance”.  Gough is less poetic: “The BT-50 builds on a tradition of Mazda heritage and values.  Its aggressive presence, command of the road and powerful turbo engines will provide leadership in the competitive truck segment.”

The three liter engine delivers 154 bhp (113 kW), with peak torque of 380 Nm at the impressively low speed of 1,800 rpm, while the smaller unit produces 140 bhp and 330 Nm respectively.

Mazda formed AutoAlliance (Thailand) Co. (AAT) in 1995, in conjunction with Ford, to manufacture pick-up trucks beginning in mid-1998.  With a major plant in Rayong Province, AAT produces the Ranger pick-up for Ford and the new BT-50 Mazda, as well as assembling a number of other Ford and Mazda products from overseas kits.  The first fully built unit was delivered in May 1998, with exports beginning in December that year.  By August 2000 the plant was celebrating production of 100,000 units, with the 200,000 mark coming up just 18 months later.  Currently Mazda Thailand exports to more than 130 countries worldwide.

Mazda itself began in 1920 as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., and by 1929 the Hiroshima-based firm was producing Toyo machine tools.  The manufacture of motorized vehicles started in 1931 with a three-wheeled truck and the following year Toyo Kogyo began exports to China, but it was not until the early Sixties that the company, now called Mazda, established itself as a full automaker with the introduction of a two-door passenger car, the R360 Coupé.

It was also around this time, 1961, Mazda built its first compact pick-up, the B-series 1500.  The following year Mazda produced its first four-door, the Carol 600, but it was in 1964 that the company really became a fully-fledged motor manufacturer with the first generation 323.  The 323 is still with us but is now known as the Mazda3 (see Gazette January 28).

The company had entered into a licensing agreement in the Sixties with Germany’s NSU which controlled the patents of Felix Wankel’s unique rotary engine and in 1967 the Mazda Cosmo Sport with a Wankel engine was launched.  Unfortunately early problems with the rotor seals made the vehicle a flop, but Mazda persevered and later generation sports cars, notably the superb RX-7, and more recently the four-door RX-8, makes Mazda the only mainstream manufacturer to retain the rotary technology.

Other milestones include the win at the Le Mans 24-Hours in 1991, the first and still the only victory of the famous endurance race by a Japanese motor manufacturer.  It was also the first win by a car with a rotary engine, thereby proving the reliability of this type of engine.

Back in Thailand, the new BT-50 will go on sale shortly, with prices starting at 452,900 baht for the 2.5 liter regular cab, while the double cab starts at 583,000 baht.  Following the Bangkok launch in March, Mazda began a lengthy road show throughout Thailand, taking the BT-50 to eight provinces.

For more information go to or call 02-661-9880;  provincial toll-free 1-800-226-408.


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© 2019 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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