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Market Insight: Few losers in ute segments

Strong utility sales in T1, but not all light commercial entrants enjoy equal success

20 May 2024

AGAINST a backdrop of new-vehicle sales figures released for April recording the strongest first four months of any year in history, light commercial utility models in particular have been delivering some high numbers. 
Sales volumes in both two- and four-wheel drive pick-up and cab-chassis segments continue unabated, seemingly unaffected by any economic headwinds. 
Heavier North American utes are also building on past performance, with steady sales across the period. 
In the light commercial utility segments, Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux models are selling in their thousands, with Isuzu D-Max and Mitsubishi Triton sales likewise proving solid. 
However, some entrants have failed to find as much favour among Australian buyers. 
Some new entrants and a handful of familiar nameplates that are well-established in the local market seem unable to reach the sales heights of Australia's most-popular utes, as the data below clearly shows. 

T1 light commercial utility sales for 2024 

In the pick-up/cab-chassis 4x2 segment, among eight participants it is the evergreen Toyota HiLux that tops the charts. 
A staple of the courier and fleet segment for decades, this trusted workhorse has notched up 2234 sales in the year to date, with the Isuzu D-Max (2157) and Ford Ranger (2001) now snapping at its heels by just a couple of hundred units. 
Two-wheel drive utility models with fair sales numbers include the recently renewed Mitsubishi Triton (1159 deliveries) and Mazda BT-50 (1117), while slower movers include the Nissan Navara (381), GWM Ute (92), and LDV T60 (high-priced and electric-only in 4x2 guise hence just five were sold). 
Select four-wheel drive and the numbers increase considerably. 
Ford’s Australian-engineered Ranger continues to top the charts with YTD sales of 19,329 units, placing it in a comfortable lead over the ageing Toyota HiLux (14,949 sold). 
Both models, however, continue to accelerate ahead of segment rivals like the Isuzu D-Max (8170 with a facelift just launched) and Mitsubishi Triton (5002 recently launched in a new generation with a limited number of variants for now), which themselves place well ahead of the majority of the segment’s players. 
Fifth place sees the Mazda BT-50 (3962 units) outpace the Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series (3934) by just a handful of vehicles, both leading the Nissan Navara (3286) and Volkswagen Amarok (3003) by a decent margin. 
In ninth place, the GWM Ute managed 2738 unit sales to the end of April, pipping Chinese compatriot LDV T60 (2155) by several hundred sales. 
The remainder of the segment is rounded out by the SsangYong Musso (1096), poor-selling Jeep Gladiator (121), and GWM Cannon Alpha (that was not officially on sale during the reporting period so had just five deliveries against its name). 

T1 heavy commercial utility sales for 2024 

The next step up from the Ranger and HiLux set is the American-sourced and locally converted range of full-size pick-up trucks. 
Sales of these heavy-duty workhorses continue to gain traction Down Under, their popularity  attributed in part to increased size, towing capacity, all-round capability and as a status symbol. 
According to VFACTS classifications, the segment in which these models compete is known as Pick-Up/Cab-Chassis over $100K and contains some diverse players due to vehicles being categorised by price, rather than size or driveline configuration. 
To the end of April, the segment is led by the Ram 1500, a vehicle which holds a considerable lead over its counterparts with sales of 1162 units. 
In second place, the similarly sized Ford F-150 has notched up 789 deliveries across T1, narrowly beating third-placed Chevrolet Silverado (739 sales). Sales velocity of the big Ford is likely hampered by a string of recalls and stop-sale notices since it went on sale. 
The remainder of the segment is populated by larger ‘heavy duty’ entrants including the Chevrolet Silverado HD (448), Ram 2500 (186), and Ram 3500 (16). Given their capabilities, vehicles like this have more in common with players in the light- and medium-duty truck segments than light commercial utes. 

While Toyota Australia conducts its toe-in-the-water with the Tundra, the 150 deliveries made to select customers cannot realistically be compared with the likes of the F-150 against it will eventually compete.

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