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While attending a press function for the new Focus this week, a Ford representative admitted to us that the Ford Bantam half-tonner is about to be handed the death knell.
The main reason given is that in line with Ford's latest globalisation strategies, in which maximum efficiency of scale is sought, South Africa's Silverton assembly plant outside Pretoria will become a one-platform factory in which only the new Ranger will be built - for local consumption and wide-scale export.
Ford could not give an exact date for the end of production, but speculated that it would be around September this year - meaning there should still be stock available until at least the end of the year.
The aforementioned globalisation strategy is also expected to spell the end for other unique niche products developed for specific regions, such as Australia's Ford Falcon.
Ford's representative would not divulge any details about how the company plans to plug the void left by the Bantam in the popular half-tonne segment, besides saying that they will bring something into the small commercial market.
Currently there is no half-tonne Ford bakkie available overseas, besides the outdated Ford Courier that's similar to our Bantam in a number of ways, so unless a replacement is created in Brazil, that other vehicle may just be the Ford Transit Connect panel van, which competes with the VW Caddy in Europe.
The death of Bantam spells the end of an era for a vehicle that's almost as South African as pap and wors, considering that the three generations of Bantam that have been on our market since 1983 have all been designed in South Africa, albeit using parts from other passenger vehicles in the Ford line-up.
The first Bantam was based on the front-wheel drive 'Erica' Escort, while its replacement of 1994 fused the front end of a Mazda 323 to the rear end of the original Bantam. The current Bantam, first introduced in 2002, is based on the facelifted Ford Fiesta of 2000.
This is bad news. I hoped to buy a new one in a year or two . I own a 2002 Mazda Rustler 1300 with 230 000 on the clock and still delivers the reliable service that one expects from it. I do not like the GM product because they gives the impression of being too heavy and found that MazdaFord half tonners small , light and tough. Come on Toyota , see the gap in the market !
Anonymous does not know what heshe is talking about. I have a 13xli Bantam, which has done a trouble free 210 000km, travelled mainly long distance often towing up to 800kg trailer plus 500kg on the back. The vehicle has never let me down, never struggled to do what is expected of it and is STILL on the original disc pads. Every service was done according to the book and the most expensive one was for R1100-00 [which included a new tensioner and belt. Most services were in the R450-00 to 650-00 range. fuel consumption varies between 580km [fully laden] to 700k unladen. One of the best vehicles I have owned, in fact I prefer it to my Merc 200. I also have a Nissan 1400, also a very good work-horse but it does not come close in comfort, ride, quality, performance or interior space. I hope that Ford comes out with something equal to this gem of a car. In fact I have NEVER seen one broken down at the side of the road.
@ anonymous 14-12 tonner???
Front Wheel Drive bakkies have never really worked. The last 12 tonner the nissan 1400 is now also out of production. SA needs a good rear wheel drive 14 -12 ton bakkie thats simple and durable at +- R100 000. how about it Toyota!
Lomesh Panday, wrote
If only they would introduce the F150 to SA
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