If there’s one segment that continues to thrive amid declining new vehicle sales in South Africa, it’s the bakkie market. Despite tough economic conditions, bakkies are in high demand. The local market, which is led by the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger in terms of sales, recently saw the introduction of the Fiat Fullback and its cousin, the new Mitsubishi Triton, is on its way too. But there are further changes afoot...
More manufacturers are joining the bakkie fray in the hope of securing a piece of this (lucrative) market pie. Newcomers to the market, however, have lots of convincing to do to sway buying decisions into their favour. There are a number of new bakkies that could potentially “rock the boat” when (or if) they finally go on sale in South Africa. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most-anticipated bakkies you can expect in the short to medium term.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class bakkie will arrive in South Africa late in 2017 or early in 2018.
Probably the most anticipated bakkie currently in development is the Mercedes-Benz X-Class. The recently revealed Mercedes-Benz X-Class Concept showed the design direction for the forthcoming production version with its bold face and luxurious interior. The X-Class (previously referred to as the GLT) has been spotted numerous times in recent months undergoing testing and the new model is destined for markets in Europe, Australia, Latin America and South Africa.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is being developed in partnership with Nissan and the new model will be based on the running gear of the Nissan NP300 Navara. A range of 4- and 6-cylinder engines (including turbodiesels, of course) will be offered with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 7-speed automatic transmission. Multiple trim levels will be available to suit different requirements and an AMG styling pack is also on the cards. It was recently reported that an AMG version of the X-Class will not become a reality due to a lack of demand. The Mercedes-Benz X-Class will go on sale in Europe in 2017 before arriving in South Africa 2017/2018.
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The new Nissan Navara can be expected in South Africa at the end of 2016 or early in 2017.
The Navara is Nissan’s answer to the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger but there’s currently no definitive introduction date for the new Navara. From all accounts and considering feedback from Nissan South Africa, you can expect to see the all-new Navara during the first quarter of 2017. The new Navara will be built at Nissan’s plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria, which is being readied to produce the newcomer.
Although local specification is yet to be confirmed, you can expect the new Navara to be powered by a new 2.3-litre turbodiesel engine with either 120 kW or 140 kW on offer. The current 3.0-litre V6 dCi engine will in all likelihood remain, offering 170 kW and 550 Nm of torque. The Navara will be available in 2- and 4-wheel drive guises with the choice of a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic transmission.
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You can expect a new Hilux-based double-cab bearing either a Peugeot or Citroen badge within the next five years.
Earlier this year PSA Peugeot Citroen announced its “Push to Pass” growth plan that will see no less than 26 new passenger cars and 8 light commercial vehicles see the light between 2016 and 2021. Interestingly, this plan will spawn a new 1-tonne bakkie that will carry either a Peugeot or Citroen badge.
All indicators point to a partnership between PSA Peugeot Citroen and Toyota to develop the new bakkie, which means it will be loosely based on the Hilux. It’s still early days for the Peugeot Citroen bakkie, so details regarding engines and specification remain a mystery at this point.
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The Alaskan is Renault's take on a premium leisure double-cab bakkie. Not a bad looker!
Based on the Alaskan concept shown in 2015, the production-ready Renault seems to be a promising product of the Renault-Nissan alliance. The Alaskan shares its underpinnings with the Nissan NP300 Navara (as well as the Mercedes-Benz X-Class) and slots into the premium-end of the leisure bakkie market.
The Alaskan is powered by a 2.3-litre twin-turbodiesel engine offering either 120 kW or 141 kW. A 2.5-litre petrol and turbodiesel powerplants will complete the engine offering with a choice of a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission.
As it stands, the Renault Alaskan has not been confirmed for introduction in South Africa, but it seems likely if it gets the go-ahead to be produced in right-hand drive. We can only hope that Renault can make a case for the Renault Alaskan as it will provide more depth in the local leisure bakkie market. If the Renault Alaskan gets the green light in South Africa, an introduction in the second half of 2017 is likely.
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The Duster Oroch could be a popular offering in South Africa, but only if Renault brings it here.
The Duster has been a huge success for Renault and if the Duster Oroch bakkie makes it to South Africa, it will surely be a good thing for the French automaker. The Duster Oroch bakkie is a medium-sized double-cab bakkie that slots in between the half-ton and one-ton segment, offering space and performance typically seen in a compact SUV.
The Duster Oroch will in all likelihood be powered by the same 77 kW/148 Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine and 80 kW/240 Nm turbodiesel engine found in the current Duster line-up. Renault South Africa has not yet confirmed if the Oroch will be made available in South Africa. Let’s hope it will.
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Mazda and Isuzu have teamed up to develop the new BT-50.
Mazda and Ford collaborated to produce the current BT-50, which was built locally at Ford’s Rosslyn plant and it shares its underpinnings with the popular Ranger. That partnership has now dissolved and to keep itself in the bakkie game, Mazda recently announced a “basic agreement” with bakkie specialist, Isuzu, to develop the next-generation BT-50. Details of the new BT-50 are yet to be revealed, but it’s safe to assume that the new model will be heavily based on the Isuzu KB.
The new BT-50 isn’t expected in the near future, but an arrival date sometime in 2018/2019 seems likely.
The new Mitsubishi Triton will offer more comfort and a smoother ride thanks to its revised suspension.
The new Mitsubishi Triton Sport Utility (SU) bakkie will launch in South Africa in February 2017 and will introduce higher levels of refinement and comfort features. Offroad ability will be made possible with Mitsubishi's Super Select II 4WD system and the Triton's interior will feature more space for passengers.
The new Triton will be powered by a 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine with 133 kW and 430 Nm of torque. Customers will have the choice between a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. The Triton will be offered as both a 4x2 and a 4x4.
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