Utes from Asia spell eu­thana­sia for icon

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - By JOSHUA DOWLING

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.