Death of the Aussie Ute
The iconic Aussie ute has been a victim of both Ford and Holden’s decisions to stop local manufacturing.
The Falcon ute was the first to go, with Ford shutting down its Victorian production plant in 2016. The last Holden Commodore ute rolled off the assembly line in South Australia in late 2017.
The first locally produced Ford Falcon ute hit the streets in 1961. It went through seven generations of models. The last to be produced was the FG. The Holden ute was first produced a decade earlier.
Why did Holden and Ford shut down local manufacturing? Both cited high production costs and the small local market. Wages in Australia are much higher than in other parts of the world. The value of the Australian dollar also had an impact.
Toyota also closed its local production facilities in 2017. But it didn’t manufacture its range of utes in Australia.
The rise of 4 x 4s
Four-door, four-wheel drive (4x4) pickups from overseas have quickly replaced the locally produced utes. It’s been a quick transition. Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton are the most popular models.
The Hilux has been Australia’s top-selling new vehicle for the past three years. A record-breaking 50,000 new units were sold in 2018! It’s top-end range (the Rogue and the Rugged) were especially popular. The Ford Ranger sold about 40,000 units in 2018, while there were about 25,000 Triton sales. Each manufacturer has a range of single or dual-cab chassis.
Base model 2019 Hiluxes start at $20,990 and go up to $65,780, while Ford Rangers start at $27,990 and go up to $77,110. The latest Triton models range from $22,490 to $48,510. Price wars are common in the Australian ute market. The major players compete aggressively for market share.
Utes are the third-biggest vehicle category in Australia, with 18% market share. SUVs (43%) are the most popular, followed by passenger cars (33%). However, sales of new utes almost matched the sales of new SUVs in 2018.
More than 200,000 utes were sold in Australia last year. It’s a growing market segment. Ute sales grew by 6.3% in 2018, while overall car sales slumped 15%. Carsales.com.au dubbed 2018 as “the year of the ute”!
The Thai invasion
The Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton models are all made in Thailand. So are other 4 x 4 models like the Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50.
Thailand is the biggest producer of utes in the Asia-Pacific region. They signed a free trade agreement with Australia in 2005. Before then, locally made Ford and Holden utes dominated the local market. Australian imports of utes from Thailand have tripled since the agreement was signed.
The future outlook
Competition in the growing Australian ute market is set to intensify. US manufacturer Jeep is planning on introducing a Wrangler 4 x 4 ute in 2020. Great Wall have also announced that they are planning on releasing a new 4 x 4 dual-cab model in Australia. The Chinese company is targeting the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger models. Expect Great Wall to use aggressive pricing strategies.
Luxury brands have also announced plans to release ute models in Australia in the next two years. Mercedes-Benz have already released the X- Class, and we are expected to see Renault and Peugeot utes on local roads soon!
To help you secure your new ute, our team at Auto Car Loans are here to help with car finance. Call us now on 1300 301 051 to speak with one of our friendly brokers.
DISCLAIMER : The thoughts and opinions conveyed on this website are those of the authors only and are of a general nature. This does not constitute financial or general advice to you from Auto Loans Group. You should seek your own independent advice from a professional which is specific to your circumstances before considering any of the items referred to in this article, including finance, insurance, and car buying.