Since 2006, the Japanese automaker Mazda is producing a 1-ton pickup truck called the Mazda BT-50. It has a chassis code of J97M. Compared to B-Series, it is relatively larger version which is not offered in Japan and North America. Since its debut, it has been in its second generation. Ford has introduced the variant of 1st generation BT-50 under Ford Ranger name. Ford Australia is behind the designing of the second generation Ranger. Both Ranger and BT-50 are sold alongside each other.
First Generation (J97M; 2006–2011)
The first generation BT-50 was introduced for the first time on March 22, 2006 at the Bangkok Motor Show. It is powered either by a Duratorq/MZR-CD 2.5-L and 3.0-L Diesel straight-4 engines which it shares with the Ford Ranger.
A new 5-speed automatic transmission with BorgWarner transfer case was introduced by Mazda in November 2006. Safety features were also enhanced with the introduction of side passenger side airbags.
In the first half of 2008, Mazda introduced some minor changes and modification in the BT-50. With this redesigned version, Mazda made a good number of optional features standard and the interior was also renovated.
It is offered in Central and South America but not offered in North American market. The available options include: a 2.6-L straight-4 (4×4) version using similar specs as in Mazda B2600; a 2.2-L straight-4 (4×2) version with similar specs as found in B2200; and a 2.5-L Diesel straight-4 version available as 4×4 or 4×2.
Second Generation (2011–present)
On October 2010, Mazda launched a completely redesigned model of BT-50 at the Australian International Motor Show. This new generation shared its platform with the Ford Ranger (T6).
Although, the BT-50 was assembled at Ford Australia design center in Melbourne by Mazda designing team, both the companies (Mazda and Ford) carried out their operations independently. The windscreen, roof and the rear screen of both Ranger and BT-50 resembles a lot despite many differences. Mazda is planning to start production of BT-50 in Thailand and South Africa in near future.