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Driving Sports TV 11 October, 2021 - 09:00am 2 views

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Ford says a subcompact Bantam-like bakkie is a possibility for South Africa

Carmag South Africa 11 October, 2021 - 02:42pm

Since being released earlier this year, the Ford Maverick has been proving to be a successful product in the North American market. Given the positive reception, the brand says it is now considering an even smaller bakkie offering to the younger demographic.

Speaking to Muscle Cars and Trucks, chief product platform and operations officer Hau Thai-Tang says “What are we good at? Trucks. What do we need? An affordable, entry vehicle to bring first time buyers into the showroom,”

When revealed, the Ford Maverick amassed 100 000 reservations ahead of its official launch. Interestingly, it saw demand in areas where imported cars usually sell well which resulted in a swing for the brand.

The Maverick may be the brand’s smallest bakkie at the moment but compared to the iconic Bantam, it is still rather lofty. When asked if there is a possibility that Ford’s bakkie will go smaller, Thai-Tang said “Maybe. There’s certainly in other markets like South America and South Africa. But [the Maverick] is a great story. We leveraged the Bronco Sport [platform], we did all of our Built Ford Tough validation on it, and the decision to go full hybrid eliminates the decision for first time buyers on fuel efficiency and operational costs.”

When asked if Ford is starting to strategise away from sedans and hatchbacks and towards bakkies and SUVs, Thai-Tang said “We looked at it as passenger vehicles are getting very commoditised, it’s difficult for us to make money, how else can we use that capital and engineering capacity? We decided let’s play to our strengths.”

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Bantam reboot? Ford exec hints at smaller bakkie for markets like SA

IOL 11 October, 2021 - 03:41am

Ford recently launched its Maverick pick-up in the US as a ‘compact’ double cab that slots beneath the Ranger, although with an overall length of just over five metres, the newcomer is not exactly small. But could Ford be considering something smaller? US website Muscle Cars & Trucks recently posed this question to Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer Hau Thai-Tang, and not only did he hint that the company is keen on such a vehicle, but South Africa was also mentioned as a possible market.

“Maybe,” Thai-Tang told MC&T. “There’s certainly (opportunity) in other markets like South America and South Africa. But the Maverick is a great story. We leveraged the Bronco Sport (platform), we did all of our Built Ford Tough validation on it, and the decision to go full hybrid eliminates the decision for first time buyers on fuel efficiency and operational costs.”

The new Maverick is the cheapest Ford product on sale in the US, where prices start at $20 000 (approximately R300 000), but it is not destined for South Africa at this stage as it’s only being built in left-hand drive form.

If Ford decides to build a smaller bakkie for markets such as South Africa, it’s not clear whether it would be offered in double cab or single cab configurations, or both for that matter. Ford could take some inspiration from the new-generation Fiat Strada in Brazil, which is offered in both formats. It’s too early to say what kind of powertrains would be offered in the Bantam successor, but Ford’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, in normally aspirated and turbocharged guises, would probably slot in quite comfortably.

While such a vehicle would no doubt be developed abroad, it’s interesting to note the the Ford Bantam was a South African creation, with the first-generation based on the MK3 Escort, the second iteration borrowing from the Mazda 323-based Laser and the third and final Bantam sharing DNA with the Ford Fiesta and Ikon.

The last Ford Bantam crossed the assembly line in late 2011. At the time Ford SA said it was seeking to maximise efficiency of scale by converting the local assembly plant in Silverton into a one-platform operation that builds the Ranger for local consumption and export.

On that subject, the next-generation Ford Ranger, due in 2022, is also set to be built locally and you can get an early look at it here.

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