The Ford Ranger/Toyota Hilux tussle, now reaching boiling point going into the last sales month of 2014, will become even more charged next year when both companies reveal new-look models for the New Zealand market.
Toyota is keeping pictures of its new Hilux under wraps, but Ford has gone to YouTube with a 20-second video of the refreshed (above) Ranger, showing a front end that mixes the design of the upcoming SUV, the Everest, with elements of Ford’s F-Series trucks. The Ranger cabin will also get a makeover.
The new Ranger is expected to go on sale in New Zealand around August/September next year. Toyota hasn’t said when Hilux will be here, but industry watchers are picking a similar launch date.
- See earlier story and pictures: ‘New Toyota Hilux is bigger inside and out – and beefier’
The commercial segment has become especially charged heading into December. Toyota has slashed the price of its Hilux by around 25% in a last-ditch bid to slam-dunk the leading Ranger and maintain Hilux’s 32-year record as the country’s most popular workhorse.
The four-wheel-drive Hilux SR5 has been listed at $49,990 at Toyota dealers, down from a recommended retail price of $65,290 for the five-speed automatic variant. One South Auckland Toyota dealer reportedly listed a four-paw, low-mileage demonstration Hilux for $39,990.
Ford is advertising its four-wheel-drive Ranger XLT double-cab also at $49,990, down from an earlier $59,540 for the six-speed manual model. The Ranger at the end of last month was leading Hilux by 283 units (5061- 4778), thanks in part to the success of the 2WD Ranger automatic. But Hilux 4WDs had outsold comparable Ranger models by around 400 units.
One Toyota salesman in Auckland said he alone has “quite a few” customers wanting a Hilux SR5 before Christmas. There are reports of generous trade-ins: $6000 for a 17-year-old Hilux; $12,500 for an eight-year-old Hilux with 279,000km on the clock. Do the sums: $49,990 minus $12,500 is $37,490 … for a new Hilux SR5.
There are also reports of guaranteed trade-ins: buy a new Hilux now and Toyota will set in stone a trade-in price on a new-generation model next year. Toyota reportedly prepared for cut-price demand by shifting Hilux stock around the country, moving models from dealers in low-demand areas to dealers who have a history of high Hilux turnover.
Word on the street has it that the lower prices have created such interest that favoured dealers have even had to wait their turn. There is also speculation that Toyota is foxing, that the recent reported arrival of three car-carrying ships landed enough Hiluxes to meet pent-up demand and pip Ranger at the post.
Senior Toyota NZ sales executive Steve Prangnell said the other day that Toyota doesn’t have the Hilux capacity to beat Ranger. Last month he said: “We liken the entire year to a 12-round fight, and by the end of the year we will lead in ute sales”.
Toyota rivals are asking an obvious question: “Why would Toyota discount Hilux so much if it didn’t have enough models, either here or on the way, to meet the demand the discounts would create?” Said one senior industry executive: “I’ve been in this game for 30 years and if there’s one company in the world that will never settle for second place it’s Toyota.”
- At the end of October, more than 106,000 new vehicles had been registered. The Motor Industry Association’s November’s registrations are due out on December 2 and independent analysts believe November sales will top 11,000 units. That would mean sales of plus-117,000 for 11 months. Add, say, 10,000 units in December and 2014 will be a record year, beating the 125,000 registrations in 1984.