A guide to the light-duty trucks on sale in New Zealand.

Right: Fuso Can­ter led NZ light truck regis­tra­tions af­ter first six months of 2017. Be­low left: Isuzu N-se­ries was NZ’S top-sell­ing light-duty truck for sev­eral years. Be­low right: Hino 300 is third in the light-duty seg­ment. THERE ARE ONLY FIVE BRANDS IN THE HOTLY-CON­TESTED and fast-grow­ing New Zealand light-duty truck mar­ket.

The es­tab­lished mar­ket lead­ers are all Ja­panese – the Fuso Can­ter, Hino 300, and Isuzu N-se­ries.

For the past few years the Isuzu has led the mar­ket com­fort­ably, but this year, re­ju­ve­nated by a new dis­trib­u­tor, Fuso re­gained the lead it held sev­eral years ago.

Hino is third, a fair dis­tance be­hind the other two, but well clear of the re­main­ing two play­ers.

The first of them is Korean man­u­fac­turer Hyundai. Its first foray into the seg­ment with the rather plain-look­ing HD60 and HD75 never re­ally ig­nited, the trucks seen as an un­known quan­tity and too pricey.

They were re­placed early this year by the much more con­tem­po­rary-look­ing Mighty.

The fi­nal brand is China’s Fo­ton which mar­kets the ro­bust and very keenly-priced Au­mark.

It was ini­tially dis­trib­uted here by the Ateco Group, but the mar­ket­ing cam­paign was pretty low-key, and rel­a­tively few were sold.

Fo­ton New Zealand, part of the Hamil­ton-based Eb­bett Group, took over dis­tri­bu­tion late last year, and at LCV’S presstime was just start­ing to ramp up pro­mo­tion of the new Euro 5-en­gined Au­mark which was launched at the 2017 Fiel­d­ays.

In 2017, the light-duty truck mar­ket is bur­geon­ing on the back of the in­fra­struc­ture work go­ing on around the coun­try, and sales in the first six months are well ahead of where they were in Jan­uary to June 30 in 2016.

The sales bat­tle has in­ten­si­fied this year, with the Fuso and Isuzu lock­ing horns in a ti­tanic strug­gle.

For the past few years the Isuzu has been on top, and in 2016, it dom­i­nated sales, achiev­ing 566 regis­tra­tions dur­ing the year.

And it was ab­so­lute dom­i­na­tion, with the N-se­ries out­selling its ri­vals by more than two-to-one.

Be­hind it, the scrap for sec­ond place could scarcely have been closer.

Ul­ti­mately, the spot went to the Fuso Can­ter with 218 regis­tra­tions, just three more than the third-placed Hino 300.

Dur­ing 2017, that has all changed. First, Fuso got a new dis­trib­u­tor which took over the brand from Mit­subishi Mo­tors New Zealand.

Fuso New Zealand vowed to get the triple di­a­mond brand back on track in 2017, and be­gan a high-pow­ered mar­ket­ing cam­paign and in­tro­duced some se­ri­ously good deals.

And by the end of Fe­bru­ary the Can­ter led year-to-date sales nar­rowly – 66 regis­tra­tions to the Isuzu N-se­ries’ 62.

Two months later Can­ter sales sat at 156 sales to the N– se­ries’ 139, and then the bat­tle got fiercer. In June the two truck model lines were only two regis­tra­tions apart. Fuso sold 51 Can­ters and Isuzu 49 N-se­ries.

Af­ter the first six months of 2017, the Can­ter was well ahead of the N-se­ries with cu­mu­la­tive sales of 294 to the Isuzu’s 213.

The Hino 300 was third with 117 regis­tra­tions fol­lowed by the Mighty with eight sales. Fo­ton has sold one Au­mark af­ter be­ing ab­sent from the mar­ket for sev­eral months.

On the next five pages we pro­file each truck, and of­fer brief road tests of the Can­ter, Mighty, Hino 300 and N-se­ries by Truck & Driver’s team, Trevor and Hay­den Wool­ston.

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