2011 Mazda BT-50
2011 Mazda BT-50 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Any casual observer of the automotive industry today could tell you that American automakers have been shedding entangled divisions like a dog in the springtime. While Chrysler teamed up with Fiat, General Motors got rid of Hummer, Saab, Saturn and Pontiac, and over the past few years, Ford has all but entirely eliminated its overseas properties, selling Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo to the highest bidders. So what's next? According to emerging reports, Mazda looks to be up on the butcher block in Dearborn.

As it is, Ford's current stake in Mazda is not anywhere as big as it was in JLR, AML or Volvo. But even its modest 11 percent interest in the Japanese automaker is set to drop to just a few lingering shares according to Reuters.

Word of the impending split has sent Mazda shares falling, but the outlook for the Zoom-Zoom carmaker could be a lot better going forward. Although Mazda may need a new partner at some point in the future in order to remain competitive in a rapidly centralizing industry, the Japanese automaker could wait it out for a while as an independent, capitalizing on its own technologies while fending off takeover bids from overseas.

From a product lineup standpoint, models developed using Ford components and technologies – like just-introduced Ford Ranger-based BT-50 compact pickup truck pictured above – will likely continue until they've outlived their life-cycles (if not long thereafter), but the future looks to be wide-open for new vehicles after that.

[Source: Reuters]