The light truck market in New Zealand is getting an all-American flavour about it, with the mix of mostly Fords and Toyotas as much at home on the swank driveways of city slickers as they are down on the farm.
The Ford Ranger continues to be the country’s best selling vehicle, carrying a ‘Cowboy Cadillac’ moniker in the city and a ‘Ford Tough’ tag outside it. Same with the Toyota Hilux, both vehicles often dressed up to straddle the gap between bush basher and ‘pimp my ride’ pretenders.
It seems everyone wants a meaty ute/pick-up truck, just like Texas. Texans buy around 16 per cent of all pick-ups sold in America. Ford’s premium F-Series trucks alone – Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Raptor – account for 25 per cent of all luxury vehicle sales in the Lone Star state.
The Ranger’s sales dominance over the Hilux in New Zealand began in earnest last year and has continued through 2015 to the point where it has become the best selling vehicle overall, outselling the perennial favourite the Toyota Corolla.
We wrote a ditty about Ranger last year, called the
‘Ballard of Ranger and Hilux’
When the food stocks are low, and the grog’s gone,
When the bush camp fire starts to splutter,
The only thing left for a working bloke to do,
Is take his Hilux to the track for a flutter.
Now a gamble or two is okay for a few,
A bookie I once knew had a stutter,
The worse it got the odds were soon shot ,
And a sprinter might start as a trotter.
But the race doesn’t count once the jockey tells his mount,
That the others in the field can’t compete,
That’s been the way of the Hilux tale,
And we all know it’s far from complete.
The Hilux has been the mount of choice,
Over years it’s run itself ragged,
But now it has a challenger,
A Ford that looks far from haggard.
The Ranger they call it, a cowboy-type name,
And it’s tough as an old leather saddle,
It’s leading the sales race, the figures confirm,
And leaving Hilux stuck in its shadow.
So the Toyota blokes all chorused as one,
About the threat the big Ford poses,
They dressed Hilux in clothes, a bit on the nose,
And said it came up smelling like roses.
They added bits here and graphic there,
And lined the seats with black leather,
But try as they might they couldn’t alight,
From the fact that it only looked better.
Still, under the skin it’s all Hilux trim,
And the showy stuff won’t count a toss,
But the numbers don’t lie, the Ford people cry,
The Ranger might just become boss.
© Alastair Sloane, 2014
The race for dominance takes on a new intensity next month when Toyota launches the all-new Hilux to challenge the updated Ranger, which has just gone on sale.
The 21 models in the new Hilux range brings to more than 90 the ute variants available to NZ buyers. Add Ranger’s 19 variants and Toyota and Ford offer 40 alone. The rest are made up of the Nissan Navara, Holden Colorado, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, Volkswagen Amarok, Great Wall V240.
The newest ute is the Mazda BT-50 (pictured at top), a kissin’ cousin to the Ranger in that it shares its chassis and drivetrain. There are 13 variants, priced between $35,295 for the two-wheel-drive GLX single cab-chassis manual model to $57,295 for the four-wheel-drive GSX double-cab automatic.
Mazda NZ managing director Andrew Clearwater has seen significant changes to the ute segment over the years and, specifically, the BT-50. “When you see the list of features and specification available in the 2015 Mazda BT-50 models it is quite staggering and highlights just how far the Mazda BT-50 has come,” he says.
The BT-50 has a maximum five-star crash safety rating and comes with a three-year/150,000km factory warranty and a three-year/100,000km fixed price service warranty.