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Ford Ranger now HiLux's chief sales rival

Resurgent range: So far this year, Ford has sold 7912 examples of its Ranger utility as it chases the market leading Toyota HiLux.

Toyota's top-selling HiLux still rules the roost but the Ford Ranger is gaining

Ford logo7 May 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

UPDATED 16:00 AEST FORD'S Australian designed and engineered Ranger utility has leapfrogged a number of its closest rivals in the ultra-competitive light-commercial market and is now a clear number two behind the segment's reigning sales king, the Toyota HiLux.

VFACTS sales data released this week reveals that the Blue Oval sold 7912 examples of its rugged workhorse from January to April 2014, marking a 20.6 per cent boost over the first four months of last year when it shifted 6557 units.

Toyota's HiLux is still well ahead of the Ranger on 11,571 units in the same period, however.

In a pronounced turnaround, the Ranger now sits in second place on the sales charts. Last year saw ageing competitors the Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara both outsell the Ranger last year with 24,512 and 24,108 sales respectively compared to the Ranger’s 21,752 units.

That looks set to change in 2014.

Combined year-to-date 4x2 and 4x4 sales of the Triton are sitting at 5460 units, leaving the Mitsubishi in fourth place ahead of the Navara (4900) and Mazda BT-50 (4495), with all of these utes also trailing Holden's Colorado with 5717 sales so far this year.

The Ranger, and indeed the Colorado, are bucking the trend in the local LCV market which recorded zero per cent growth from January to April in the PU/CC 4x2 segment and a 13.3 per cent drop in the 4x4 segment.

Hilux's total combined sales have fallen from 12,125 this time last year to 11,571, though its market share of the PU/CC 4x2 segment grew marginally from 22.4 per cent in the first four months of 2013 to 23.9 per cent in the same period this year, and the PU/CC 4x4 share also grew slightly from 20.6 to 21.6 per cent.

But Ford's growth in these segments is more pronounced, with the Ranger 4x2 increasing from 10.3 to 13.1 per cent in that period as 4x4 sales lifted from 11.7 per cent to 16 per cent.

Since its launch in September 2011, the Ranger has grown in popularity year-on-year, with sales lifting from 15,586 in 2011 to 18,097 for its first full year on sale in 2012 and then shifting 21,752 units of the Thai-built ute in 2013. The 2011 and 2012 results were heavily impacted by the floods that crippled a number of automotive manufacturing operations in Thailand for about 12 months.

In April alone, 2094 4x2 and 4x4 Rangers found homes in Australia, making it not only the second best-selling LCV behind the HiLux on 2574 sales, but the sixth best-selling vehicle overall in the country for the month, beating popular passenger offerings such as the Mazda CX-5 (1542) and Holden Cruze (1468).

The Ranger is currently the sixth best-selling vehicle for the year behind the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and HiLux, the resurgent Holden Commodore and Hyundai i30 hatch.

Within its own stable, the Ranger is currently number one for Ford for the year-to-date, followed by the Focus small car on 6091 sales, the locally-built Territory SUV with 3067 sales, the Fiesta city car on 2399 sales and the Falcon in fifth place with 2304 units sold.

This is a marked difference from just three years ago in 2011 when the Falcon was the Blue Oval's top seller for the year on 18,741 sales with Ranger in the number two spot on 15,586 sales, followed by the Territory (13,866), Focus (12,863) and Fiesta (12,286).

Since its launch, Ford has consistently improved the Ranger by increasing safety equipment levels and boosting specification levels. Earlier this month, entry-level 4x2 cab chassis variants were awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP crash safety rating, ensuring that the entire Ranger range achieves top marks from the crash safety authority.

This will likely boost the Ranger further, as many large fleet buyers such as mining companies and governments have mandated that all LCVs in their fleet must carry a five-star rating.

At the time of its launch, the Ranger recorded the highest ever score from Euro NCAP for an LCV with 89 per cent for overall safety.

Ford has also boosted the number of variants in the line-up with the pumped up Wildtrak flagship launching in mid-2012 ahead of a new mid-spec XLS dual-cab in March 2013 and a 4x4 XL Plus aimed specifically at the mining sector that lobbed last month.

A facelifted Ranger is expected in the next 12 months ahead of the mechanically related Everest SUV which was spotted testing at Ford's You Yangs proving ground near Geelong in Victoria last month.

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