We’re buy­ing loads of utes

‘Dou­ble duty’ ve­hi­cles are crowd­ing the top 10

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Market Forces - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

WORK­ING class heroes snatched three of the top 10 spots as utes con­tin­ued to find plenty of friends last month.

The Toy­ota HiLux topped Aus­tralia’s of­fi­cial sales charts for the third straight month, pow­er­ing ahead of the Mazda3, Toy­ota Corolla and Holden Cruze from the small-car class.

It was joined by the Nis­san Navara in fifth and the Mit­subishi Tri­ton in 10th as busi­nesses raced to beat the end of the fi­nan­cial year— and cashed in big bonuses from most of the ma­jor mak­ers.

Even the Fal­con ute man­aged its best show­room ef­fort in seven months, al­though it was a long way short of the top 10.

‘‘ We’re see­ing a num­ber of trends that influence the re­sult for the HiLux,’’ Toy­ota Aus­tralia’s Mike Breen says.

‘‘ Utes have be­come much more car-like over the past 10 years, in com­fort and safety, and more peo­ple are us­ing them for dou­ble duty.

‘‘ So they might be pri­mar­ily for work but they can also dou­ble as a fam­ily car.

‘‘ There has also been an un­der­ly­ing trend to­wards 4x4 pick-ups, with sales up by 127 per cent from 2002 un­til 2011.’’

But the HiLux also does well in show­rooms be­cause there is a model for nearly ev­ery­one, with 35 va­ri­eties of cabin size and lay­out, load space, engine choices and driv­e­line op­tions.

Breen says the surge in ute de­liv­er­ies is partly be­cause Ja­panese mak­ers are still catch­ing up with back or­ders from last year, when their Thai fac­to­ries were flooded. There are also strong new ar­rivals, in­clud­ing the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT50 and vw’s Amarok. Out­side the ute class, the June V facts fig­ures re­flected a con­stant pat­tern since the start of 2011, cul­mi­nat­ing with an all­time best re­sult of 112,566 ve­hi­cles. Aus­tralia’s three car mak­ers fi­nally got a lit­tle good news, with year-to-date sales of the Ford Fal­con-ter­ri­tory, Holden Com­modore-Cruze and Toy­ota Camry-Au­rion up by nearly 7000 on the half­way point of 2011.

On the down­side, the Com­modore slumped to its worst rank­ing, just eighth and even beaten by the Volk­swa­gen Golf thanks to ag­gres­sive deals by the Ger­mans. Ford is trum­pet­ing the best re­sult of the year for its Fal­con, even though it is still head­ing for the worst re­sult in the his­tory of the name­plate, and the strong­est sales in five years for the Ter­ri­tory SUV.

Mak­ers are tip­ping a pos­si­ble record in 2012, in the re­gion of 1,080,000 sales.

Ute beaut: The Nis­san Navara is one of the work­ers in the top 10

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