Herald Sun - Motoring - - WORKING WHEELS -

FOR years Toy­ota’s HiLux has ruled the work­site and the camp­ing ground but things are chang­ing. The Ford Ranger is threat­en­ing the “un­break­able” Toy­ota’s stran­gle­hold on the one-tonne ute mar­ket, es­pe­cially in 4WD sales.

Last month, with new mod­els of both ve­hi­cles fill­ing dealer fore­courts, the gap be­tween 4WD Ranger and HiLux was just 94 sales. The close call was the con­tin­u­a­tion of a trend that has gained mo­men­tum since the launch of the Aus­tralian de­signed and en­gi­neered Ranger in 2011.

This year Ranger 4WD sales are up al­most 11 per cent, with a record 21,119 to the end of Novem­ber.

HiLux sales in com­par­i­son con­tinue to fall, down 5.1 per cent to 23,611, from 26,821 in the same pe­riod in 2013.

The Ranger holds 17.2 per cent share of the 4WD ute busi­ness so far this year, a record for the model, while HiLux leads with 19.3 per cent.

Ford says the Ranger is pick­ing up fleet busi­ness with a spe­cial min­ing in­dus­try pack and other heavy-duty ap­pli­ca­tions. But fam­ily buy­ers are driv­ing the growth.

“What is sur­pris­ing is that hig-hseries Ranger (XLT and Wild­trak) are enor­mously pop­u­lar with pri­vate buy­ers,” says Ford spokesman Neil McDon­ald. “How­ever, given the high level of stan­dard fea­tures and safety, Wild­trak in par­tic­u­lar has a strong or­der bank. It’s clear that Ranger has be­come the work ve­hi­cle dur­ing the week but in many cases, a fam­ily ve­hi­cle or recre­ation ve­hi­cle at week­ends,” he said.

Fal­con buy­ers have frag­mented, with many de­sert­ing the brand. Ford says many Fal­con ute own­ers are making the switch to Ranger.

Chris Ri­ley

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