Ranger, Hilux bat­tle heats up

Kapiti Observer - - MOTORING - ROB MAETZIG

Com­pe­ti­tion, huh? It’s that lovely sce­nario that forces man­age­ment and mar­keters to think out­side the square in their ef­forts to gain some busi­ness ad­van­tage.

In New Zealand mo­tor­ing there’s no bet­ter ex­am­ple than the on­go­ing mar­ket­ing bat­tle be­tween Ford and Toy­ota with their Ranger and Hilux utes re­spec­tively.

Th­ese two mod­els are by far the most pop­u­lar ve­hi­cles in New Zealand.

In 2016 Ford sold 8478 Rangers while Toy­ota sold 6187 Hiluxes. That’s 14,665 utes - bet­ter than 40 sales a day, for heaven’s sake.

And in the open­ing 90 days of this year to the end of March, Ford sold 2214 Rangers while Toy­ota sold 1719 Hiluxes. A to­tal of 3933 of the utes, which rep­re­sented close to 44 sales a day.

So the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween th­ese two fa­mous brands and their pickup trucks is not only con­tin­u­ing, but in­ten­si­fy­ing. And what are Ford and Toy­ota do­ing about it all? They’re adding to the fun by at­tempt­ing to blind­side each other with the re­lease of new "spe­cial edition" ver­sions of their prod­uct.

Toy­ota NZ has just launched a spe­cial edition Hilux Edge, at a com­pet­i­tive price point. Based on the SR model, the Edge pack­age in­cludes 17-inch al­loy wheels from the top Hilux SR5, and for ex­tra street cred it has also re­ceived black over-fender flares, a black bon­net stripe, and Edge de­call­ing and badg­ing on its well­side.

The Edge is avail­able in six ex­te­rior colours, and re­tails from $37,990 for a 2WD PreRun­ner man­ual, through to $48,990 for a 4WD 3.0-litre tur­bod­iesel auto.

"The Hilux Edge gives cus­tomers a unique, sportier take on the clas­sic truck," says TNZ’s gen­eral man­ager of sales Steve Prangnell.

"It’s a unique model that looks great and un­der­lines Hilux’s peren­nial abil­ity to ap­peal to a broad range of cus­tomers."

At the same time, TNZ has taken ad­van­tage of cur­rent favourable ex­change rates to re­duce the prices of all Hilux mod­els. The Kiwi dol­lar has strength­ened against the yen by about 7.6 per cent this year, al­low­ing the com­pany to pass th­ese gains on to cus­tomers, adds Prangnell.

The re­sult is sav­ings of up to $4000 on the Hilux, de­pend­ing on the model. All Hilux 4WD SR mod­els have been re­duced in price by $3000, and the SR5 and SR5 Lim­ited by $4000. The Hilux 2WD S and SR mod­els have re­duced by $1000, and the 2WD SR5 and SR5 Lim­ited mod­els by $2000.

The Hilux range now starts at $35,990 and tops out at $66,490.

But Ford hasn’t been sit­ting on its hands ei­ther. It’s just an­nounced it will soon in­tro­duce its own spe­cial edition Ranger, the FX4 which will be avail­able only in Shadow Black in recog­ni­tion of the up­com­ing Lions rugby tour of New Zealand.

The FX4 is based on the Ranger XLT and adds a se­ries of fea­tures in­clud­ing 18-inch Stark Grey al­loys, and black colour­ing of the roof rails, sports bar, rear bumper, side steps, door han­dles, and grille.

Jeremy Nash, Ford NZ’s mar­ket­ing man­ager for light com­mer­cials and SUVs, says it is a tough ask tak­ing a ve­hi­cle that is al­ready a win­ning com­bi­na­tion of ca­pa­bil­ity and de­sign and mak­ing it even bet­ter.

"The Ranger FX4 makes a great ute even more ex­tra­or­di­nary with its unique style and bold­ness, and that’s a dif­fi­cult thing to do with a ve­hi­cle that al­ready looks great and has won so many awards," he says.

"The de­sign­ers have risen to the chal­lenge though and done a great job with this one. We don’t ex­pect the lim­ited num­bers to last long."

The 200 Ranger FX4s will be of­fered from May 1 at $65,390.

The Ford v Toy­ota com­pe­ti­tion doesn’t end with utes. It’s ex­tended to their large SUVs built off the utes - the Ever­est and the For­tuner.

Toy­ota has lopped $10,000 off all four For­tuner mod­els on sale here, so they now range from $60,990 for the GX, to $68,990 for the Lim­ited.

And Ford is about to launch its first rear-wheel drive ver­sion of the Ever­est, which will be based on the 4WD Ever­est Trend and will also be painted Shadow black. It fea­tures all sorts of black trim in­clud­ing 18-inch "Depth Graphite" al­loys, black grille, black roof rails, black front and rear guard badges, and tinted win­dows.

The ve­hi­cle, called the Ever­est FX2, is $69,990. It will be launched on May 1 and only 50 will be built.

The spe­cial edition Toy­ota Hilux Edge. launched at a com­pet­i­tive price point.

The all-black spe­cial edition Ford Ranger FX4, launched to co­in­cide with the com­ing Lions rugby tour.

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