Utes from Asia spell euthanasia for icon
THE homegrown Holden ute — a favourite in the Territory — is about to be retired forever after almost 65 years on Australian roads.
The Aussie icon has had its sales and hopes crushed by a flood of pick-ups imported from Thailand.
One in five of all new vehicles sold so far this year comes from Thailand, second only to Japan.
Australian-made cars now account for less than one in 10 of all new vehicle deliveries; local production is at its lowest level since 1957.
Enthusiast buyers have less than three years to decide if they want a new Holden ute before it is relegated to the history books alongside the arch rival Ford Falcon ute by the end of 2016.
The end of an era means the Holden Commodore ute will likely reach cult status.
When the Kingswood ‘onetonner’ ute eventually went out of production in 1984 and wasn’t immediately replaced ( a Commodore ute didn’t surface until 1990) its resale values skyrocketed.
Holden would not comment on the future or the fate of the Commodore ute.
But News Corp Australia has been told that if Holden continues manufacturing beyond 2016 it will adopt two new ‘ global’ cars, one of which is a large front-wheeldrive sedan that will not be made into a ute.
Holden’s US police car export program could have given the Commodore ute a stay of execution because it shares its core underbody structure with the Caprice.
But ute sales are now so low Holden bosses are poised to euthanase it.
Holden Commodore ute sales are down by a staggering 31 per cent year-to-date, the lowest sales of all time. The sedan and wagon are up 15 per cent since the new Commodore arrived. Holden cannot justify the investment in a new Commodore ute because buyers have shifted to Toyota HiLux-style pick-ups most of which are made in Thailand, where production labour rates are one-fifth of Australia’s.
Adding salt to the wound, Australia has a free-trade agreement with Thailand, with imports attracting a 0 per cent tariff since 2010.
The result has been catastrophic for local car manufacturers, with utes hit hardest. More than 100,000 Thai pick-ups have been sold in Australia this year, compared with 4100 Commodore utes and 3500 Falcon utes.