Mazda has revealed it rejected the offer of spinning off a Mazda-badged version of the Ford Everest, suggesting it wouldn’t have been the right fit for the brand.

A senior executive at Mazda Australia has revealed that the Japanese company was presented with an opportunity to develop a near-twin version of the Ford Everest several years ago, but decided that an offroad-focused large SUV was not the right fit for the brand.

Mazda has rapidly expanded its SUV lineup in recent years, with the CX-8 mid-to-large seven-seater the newest addition this year squeezing in above the five-seat CX-3 and CX-5, and the larger seven-seat CX-9. While that quartet are passenger car-based SUVs, however, the growing, rugged and proper off-road large SUV class will continue to be left untouched.

“No, we are not interested in that marketplace,” Mazda Australia national marketing manager Alastair Doak told Practical Motoring at the national media launch of the updated Mazda CX-9 in Swansea, Tasmania, this week.

“We had that conversation way back when the [Ford] Everest was being talked about, we could have taken the car back then, or a version of it, and we said ‘no thank you’.

“We’re happy with our portfolio.”

Asked why that would be the case, given that Mazda is the second best-selling brand in the country behind Toyota, which fields the offroad-based Fortuner and Prado alongside the onroad-biased CX-9 rivalling Kluger, Doak replied: “I don’t think it is a particularly great fit for the Mazda brand.

“Obviously, we still want BT-50 and that car continues into the future and a new-generation is coming, which is brilliant.

“But really, we’ve never asked for anything or harboured any desires for anything beyond [that model].”

Toyota has sold 147,602 vehicles so far this year (to August), including 12,721 Prados, 10,067 Klugers and 2321 Fortuners, the latter of which trails the Isuzu MU-X (5819), Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (4401) and Everest (3627) that lead the offroad-based large SUVs.

Meanwhile Mazda has sold a silver-placed 79,004 vehicles over the same period, including 5720 CX-9s and 713 CX-8s – the latter which was only launched a few months ago.

Mazda Australia has clearly decided that it isn’t worth entering a segment where rivals sell in those sort of offroad-wagon numbers, yet as reported it will produce the next BT-50 as an Isuzu near-twin, with enormous dual-cab ute numbers obviously impossible to ignore (how does 25,104 Toyota HiLuxes and 24,899 Ford Rangers to the end of August sound?)

But Doak said the current-generation BT-50, twin to the Ford Ranger, “will be around for a while to come” and there won’t be a sudden influx of new segments to enter into to drive growth. Instead, natural growth and improving the performance of current models is key.

“There’s some nice growth available for us, I think, over the coming years,” Doak continued.

“It’s not going to be a sudden step-change or something like that, but we are very comfortable where we are and with what we’re doing and we’ll keep going. I think there’s natural growth there. A bigger population, obviously, that drives growth. The fundamentals of the economy are still pretty strong, so again, that’s all good for consumer confidence and all those other things.

“Those small businesses … that’s an opportunity for us and so, obviously, our focus is on private buyers or buyers who behave like one. And in the last 12 months, we’ve seen a vast small business market actually strengthen, so that’s an area that we play in and we’ll continue to do that.”

Where Mazda rejects the rental and large fleet market, however, Toyota sells 50% of its volume to those customers.


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