If you are a Ford Bantam fan, you had better buy one before the end of the year.
Sales of the popular half-ton bakkie are scheduled to come to an end in around six months, says Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) president and CEO Jeff Nemeth.
“The date is fluid, but we will probably sell the Bantam through to the end of the year.”
There will be no immediate replacement for the bakkie, manufactured at FMCSA’s plant in Pretoria – the same plant currently gearing up for large-scale production of the Bantam’s big brother, the new Ranger.
FMCSA sold 838 new Bantams in June, proving the staying power of the 28-year-old model, based on a Fiesta passenger car platform.
Nemeth says it has proved impossible to secure continued, sustainable parts supply for the uniquely South African Bantam model.
However, losing the Bantam is unlikely to sit comfortably with FMCSA, as it makes up around 25% of the badge’s local sales.
Is there no replacement possible then?
“We are looking at alternatives to fill the market, yes,” acknowledges FMCSA marketing, sales and service VP Dean Stoneley.
The Bantam’s departure will leave the popular half-ton segment open for the growing participation of the only two remaining contenders, namely the Nissan NP200 and the Chevrolet Utility, with the latter scheduled for a complete new model introduction later this year.
The Fiat Strada will not be refreshed, as the new model, made in Brazil, is not produced in a right-hand-drive version.
Volkswagen is mulling the possibility of introducing its Brazilian-made Saveiro half-ton bakkie to the local market – if the manufacturer can secure a right- hand-drive derivative.
The half-ton market is a rather peculiar South American and South African phenomenon, and has not seen success- ful duplication elsewhere in the world, leaving volumes small and global manufacturers unwilling to invest in this niche segment.