Amer­ica’s mind-bog­gling ute sales

New Zealand LCV - - NEWS | LCV INSIGHT – OPINION COLUMN - BY MIKE STOCK

IF UTE SALES ARE AT RECORD LEV­ELS IN NEW ZEALAND, pon­der the sheer scale of the cor­re­spond­ing mar­ket in the United States.

On a sales per head of pop­u­la­tion ba­sis, ute/pick-up sales here are ahead of the US, but be­cause of the size of the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion, the sheer num­bers of trucks sold there is mas­sive.

In some parts of the coun­try, no­tably Texas, pick-up trucks rule the sales charts.

In Texas the cat­e­gory is so im­por­tant that the big three – Ford, Gen­eral Mo­tors (Chevro­let and GMC) and Fiat Chrysler (Ram) – go all out with deals and model launches around the an­nual Texas State fair. Just as we do around Fiel­d­ays.

But it’s the num­bers of trucks leav­ing US deal­ers’ yards that bog­gle the mind. Ford, for in­stance, re­port­edly sells an av­er­age of 2452 F-se­ries trucks a day, or 102 an hour.

Each 24 hours GM moves 1935 Chevy Sil­ver­a­dos and GMC Sier­ras and Ram sales are around 1647 a day.

Ford’s F-se­ries has been Amer­ica’s best-sell­ing pick-up for 40 years and the best-sell­ing ve­hi­cle over­all for 35 years.

Ford has sold 26 mil­lion F-se­ries since 1977, and sold 820,799 trucks in 2016.

F-se­ries sales are well up on last year’s, lead­ing some US com­men­ta­tors to sug­gest that the Blue Oval’s aim of sell­ing a mil­lion trucks in a year may be achiev­able.

The ute ro­mance is in full bloom in Aus­tralia, too, where the Toy­ota Hilux is now the best-sell­ing new ve­hi­cle over­all, just as the Ford Ranger is here. And Ranger reg­is­tra­tions are on the rise in Oz, too, as buy­ers mi­grate from cars and wag­ons.

Then there are the com­ments from Mercedes-benz Vans Aus­tralia and New Zealand man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Diane Tarr, af­ter the Ger­man man­u­fac­turer un­veiled its X-class ute in July.

Tarr says the high level of in­ter­est from po­ten­tial cus­tomers re­flects “just how in­grained dual cab utes are in both the Aus­tralian and New Zealand cul­ture.

“The fact is we love utes and we’re show­ing a de­sire to in­cor­po­rate this type of ve­hi­cle into our lives in more ways than we did in the past. Not just for work, but also in­creas­ingly for pri­vate use.” Who’d have thought that even five years ago? SUVS now com­mand more than 40 per­cent of the New Zealand new ve­hi­cle mar­ket ac­cord­ing to the Mo­tor In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion which rep­re­sents ve­hi­cle dis­trib­u­tors.

Our Aussie cousins share the same fas­ci­na­tion. We’re not 100 per­cent sure why Holden went so far off the wall with its me­dia re­lease on its forth­com­ing Us-sourced Equinox and Aca­dia SUVS, but it goes like this:

“New-born ba­bies may be cute but Aus­tralians don’t love them as much as they love their SUVS.

“In 2016, Aus­tralia said hello to a new baby ev­ery one minute and 41 sec­onds, but it said hello to a new SUV ev­ery one minute and 10 sec­onds, such is the surg­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the SUV mar­ket.”

Then it slipped into more se­ri­ous mode, say­ing that in Oz, SUVS have for the first time ever, out­sold pas­sen­ger cars.

“This hasn’t al­ways been the case, how­ever. In 2006 there were just 171,000 SUVS sold in Aus­tralia, rep­re­sent­ing a mea­gre 20 per­cent of the Aus­tralian new car mar­ket.

“Fast for­ward 10 years to 2016 and that num­ber has al­most tripled to 441,000 SUV sales, or a stag­ger­ing al­most 40 per­cent of the to­tal mar­ket.” Which means? We’re out­do­ing our ANZAC mates yet again. But, be­ing fair-minded, we’ll let Holden Aus­tralia have the last word “SUVS are more pop­u­lar than ever and the seg­ment just keeps on grow­ing,” says Holden spin doc­tor, Sean Pop­pitt.

“Where once SUVS were seen as just the typ­i­cal ‘soc­cer mum’ car, or for out­back off-road ad­ven­tures only, that’s no longer the case. Aussies love their SUVS…”

And so do we.

Holden’s new Us-sourced Equinox SUV – com­ing our way soon.

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