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"End of an era": Mazda BT-50 ute axed in New Zealand as low sales spell end for Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger rival - but its Australian future looks brighter

Different regulations and buying behaviour in the smaller NZ market mean Mazda’s ute is nixed.

Mazda New Zealand has announced it will remove its ute, the BT-50, from sale citing a changing market.

While the Mazda BT-50 remains a popular model in Australia - it’s the brand’s second-most popular model here behind the CX-5 mid-size SUV - New Zealand’s total for BT-50s sold in 2023 was just 347.

Mazda Australia confirmed the BT-50 will remain on sale in Australia, with 2023 having been a “sales record” year for the model - 17,526 units of Mazda’s total 100,008 sales.

“The Mazda BT-50 remains in production and on-sale in a number of global markets including Australia,” a Mazda Australia spokesperson told CarsGuide

“2023 was a sales record for BT-50 in Australia of 17,526 units and its popularity continues to grow with customers across the country.”

Conversely, Mazda’s New Zealand boss points out that the NZ market and buyer habits aren’t conducive to continuing to offer the ute in our neighbouring nation.

Mazda New Zealand has announced it will remove its ute, the BT-50, from sale citing a changing market.

“The conclusion of the BT-50 is certainly the end of an era for Mazda in New Zealand. It is a model that has served the country well, over many years,” David Hodge, Mazda Motors of New Zealand Managing Director said in a press release, as published by stuff.co.nz.

“Undeniably the market has changed significantly over the past few years: the move towards SUVs, a greater uptake of electrified vehicles, and most recently the Clean Car Programme have all influenced consumer tastes.”

Not only is NZ a smaller market with different regulations to Australia, but Mazda’s place in the market is also more in line with its global positioning as a smaller car company.

While the Mazda BT-50 remains a popular model in Australia, New Zealand’s total for BT-50s sold in 2023 was just 347.

While Mazda ranks second behind Toyota here, it’s 10th in NZ, having shifted just 4155 cars in 2023 - a year where the NZ market racked up 149,005 sales. That’s a market share of 2.8 per cent compared to its 8.2 per cent share here for 2023.

But Mazda NZ being a smaller player in a smaller market isn’t the only reason for the BT-50 being pulled from sale - it’s also likely rather expensive for Mazda to justify the small sales volume given NZ has the Clean Car Programme, similar to what the incoming New Vehicle Efficiency Standard is likely to become in Australia.

“Under the scheme, vehicle importers are charged for vehicles they import that have CO2 emission to weight ratios above a set target, and they receive credits for vehicles that have CO2 emissions to weight ratios below a set target,” New Zealand’s Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency explains.

Chris Thompson
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Racing video games, car-spotting on road trips, and helping wash the family VL Calais Turbo as a kid were all early indicators that an interest in cars would stay present in...
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