Despite the global split-up three years ago, Ford and Mazda remained joined at the hip in South Africa but that's set to change in a year from now when the sole local distribution rights will be returned to Mazda's Japanese head office.
The two companies were key global partners for three decades and at one stage Ford even owned a third of Mazda. That all changed when Ford gave up its top stakeholder position in 2010, although the two companies continue to share technology.
On the South African front, the two brands will be completely separated and Mazda has obtained approval from its board of directors to establish a new National Sales Company in South Africa to take over the Mazda sales and service business from Ford SA.
This means that the two brands will not share dealerships after the split-up, although Ford SA's CEO Jeff Nemeth promises that the two companies will work together to ensure a seamless transition in which all existing and new Mazda customers continue to receive full warranty and service support.
Nemeth further explains that the move is consistent with the company's One Ford plan "to have a laser focus on the Ford brand as well as our continually expanding product portfolio in South Africa."
Mazda's emerging market executive officer Hiroshi Inoue expressed similar optimism: "Mazda will now have the opportunity to forge its own strategic direction in South Africa."
However, Mazda's child from the marriage - the locally-produced BT-50 that shares its platform with the Ford Ranger - will continue to be produced at Ford SA's Silverton plant in Gauteng even after the transition.