Late in July 2018, a report out of the United States suggested that Ford was developing a new small unibody bakkie, which if eventually offered in South Africa would serve as a long-awaited replacement for the half-tonne Bantam. Now the rumour is gathering pace with the Blue Oval brand applying to trademark the “Courier” name.
The initial report, of course, claimed that the rumoured unibody pick-up truck would be built on the latest Focus platform, and serve to replace the Brazilian-built (and Fiesta-based) Courier. The latter, of course, was related to the Bantam bakkie offered here in South Africa, although its load-box and door design differed.
According to Car and Driver, Ford recently filed the trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
While Ford’s spokesperson in the US opted not to comment on the prospects of a small pick-up, she did tell Car and Driver that the brand was “significantly expanding” its North American line-up with “all-new vehicles and entering new segments with fresh designs and white-space silhouettes that will position us for even more growth”.
Interestingly, that first report speculated that the new bakkie would be slightly larger than the Courier (and Bantam), but smaller than the ladder-frame Ranger, and built at the brand’s Cuautitlan plant in Mexico, alongside a Focus-based crossover. Whether this new bakkie will also be built for right-hand-drive markets, of course, remains to be seen.
As a reminder, the Ford Bantam launched in South Africa back in 1983 and went out of production locally at the end of 2011. It was also offered as a Mazda wearing the Rustler badge.
With the likes of the Fiat Strada and Chevrolet Utility also having left local shores, the only player currently offered in South Africa’s half-tonne bakkie segment is the Nissan NP200 (the Volkswagen Saveiro, of course, is currently not built in right-hand-drive form).