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Engineering partner for next-generation Mazda BT-50 ute still unclear

Mazda is searching for a new partner to develop its next generation BT-50, but the number of potential candidates is shrinking.

The clock is ticking for Mazda to find a new partner to develop its next generation BT-50 ute — and the number of potential candidates just got smaller.

Mazda has been on the lookout since Ford sold the last of its financial stake.

Their only remaining joint venture — the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 pick-up — is due to come to end by 2020, which means Mazda must find a new ute partner pronto.

However, the options are diminishing. Nissan already had a full dance card by doing spin-off versions of the Navara for Benz and Renault.

With Nissan about to own a 34 per cent controlling stake in Mitsubishi, you can take Mitsubishi off the list of possible candidates for Mazda to share a ute development.

General Motors and Isuzu have gotten over their differences before the launch of their current pick-ups, and have signed a new deal to work on the next generation utes together.

That leaves Toyota.

The Mexican-made Mazda2 sedan is sold as a Toyota Scion in the US, and Mazda uses the Prius hybrid drivetrain in the Mazda3 in Japan.

Mazda Japan has said it is committed to the ute market (even though the model is not sold in all markets) and is talking to possible partners because it cannot afford to develop a pick-up by itself.

However, as the maker of the world’s biggest compact pick-up, Toyota cannot spare production capacity at any of its HiLux factories.

So Toyota may not be an option either. It’s the same reason Ford wanted to go its own way: so it could make more utes for itself.

Mazda Japan has said it is committed to the ute market (even though the model is not sold in all markets) and is talking to possible partners because it cannot afford to develop a pick-up by itself.

Now, it’s still anyone guess where the future Mazda BT-50 will come from.

Where would you like to see the next BT-50 come from? Let us know in the comments below.