Ranger, Hilux battle heats up
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.