Fieldays factor fuels fierce fight for sales
SPECTACULAR UTE SALES WERE ON THE CARDS for June, it being Fieldays month, with all of the sweet deals, discounted pricing and promotional specials that go with the annual agricultural show.
But the once humble workhorses’ sales performances almost re-wrote the definition of spectacular.
Sales had been strong in May when many ute distributors started their Fieldays-oriented advertising and marketing campaigns, but they hit unparalleled levels the following month.
Take the market-leading Ford Ranger, for example. In May, it had its best-to-that-time sales result, winning the sales race – for light commercial vehicles and for any vehicle – with a staggering 889 registrations. Its arch-rival, the Toyota Hilux, wasn’t that far behind, finding 822 buyers.
Those are good figures but better was to come in June. If Ford could sell just shy of 900 Rangers in May, would it crack 1000 in June, Fieldays month proper?
When LCV magazine spoke to Ford’s PR man Tom Clancy in late June he was non-committal but in optimistic mood. Responding to the question of whether a new Ranger sales record was likely in June, he said Ford was “certainly on-track, and then some.”
He said Ford’s Weber barbecue with a Ranger Fieldays promotion and “sharp pricing on the 2WD XLT” had helped the ute set a sales record in May.
By June 30, and still not giving away any solid figures, Clancy was saying that “yes, we will be setting a new record.”
When Motor Industry Association (MIA) reported sales figures were revealed on July 4, Ranger sales underlined the importance
of the pick-up truck segment in the New Zealand new vehicle market. And it showed the importance of Fieldays as a tool to sell utes. Not only was the Ranger June’s top-selling ute and light commercial vehicle but it was again the country’s overall bestselling new vehicle.
And it hadn’t just reached four figures but had exceeded 1000 sales by a comfortable margin.
NZ Transport Agency registration figures show that Ford sold a jaw-dropping 1169 Rangers in June, exactly 200 more than its old sparring partner, the Toyota Hilux achieved.
It was a clear demonstration of the way New Zealand ute buyers have taken to the Ranger, and an indication of how difficult it will be to dislodge it from the top-selling position it has held for the past three years.
Not that Toyota had anything to feel sheepish about. Its June total of 969 Hilux sales was testimony to the esteem in which the truck is still held. It was also the best sales month ever for the Toyota ute.
Over the past three months, Hilux sales got a boost from price cuts that took effect from April 1. Toyota sliced $3000 off the prices of all Hilux 4WD SR models, and $4000 off upscale SR5 and SR5 Limited models.
Two-wheel drive Hilux S and SR prices were reduced by $1000, and $2000 was taken off 2WD SR5 and SR5 Limited pricetags.
At the same time, Toyota reduced the prices of the ute-based Fortuner SUV by $10,000 on both the GX and Limited models.
Toyota NZ sales boss Steve Prangnell said the price cuts followed significant growth in New Zealand light truck and SUV markets, coupled with favourable exchange rates.
“A favourable price adjustment undoubtedly boosts our proposition and ensures we remain competitive with the other new entrants in the market since we launched Fortuner”, he added.
Prangnell said the New Zealand market has got “even more SUV- and Ute-centric .... SUV sales have risen to 40 percent of the total market, while passenger sales have dropped to 32 percent.”
Toyota sales also got a fillip from the limited edition Hilux Edge which was built in both Prerunner rear-wheel drive and 4x4 variants at prices that ranged from $37,990 to $48,990.
Based on the SR model, the Edge package included the 17inch alloy wheels from the SR5.
It also had black over-fender flares, a black bonnet stripe above the grille and a Hilux Edge decal and badge package.
It was available in six exterior colours: Glacier White, Silver Sky, Graphite, Eclipse, Olympia Red and Nebula Blue.
Toyota last offered a limited edition Hilux Edge model in 2014. This year’s version, custom-built at Toyota’s Thames factory, has sold strongly, with 183 retailed. At LCV presstime, Toyota had not started building any more.
Both Ranger and Hilux sales in June showed good increases over their performances in June 2016, when Ford sold 839 utes and Toyota sold 812.
Year-to-date to June 30, the Ranger held a solid lead over the Hilux, with 4982 sales to 4084, which means it’s on track to hold on to the ute crown. At June 30 last year, Ranger sales sat at 4009 and Hilux at 3270.
Holden’s Colorado held third place in June, with 652 registrations, an indication of how well buyers have responded both to Holden’s promotional deals and to the much-improved model which debuted late last year.
In June 2016, Holden moved 412 Colorados, so the year-onyear sales growth is significant.
Year-to-date to this June 30, the Holden pick-up’s sales tally sat at 2392, a rise of 607 over the same period of 2016.
The Colorado is selling strongly in 4x4 form and Holden is working on improving sales of the rear-wheel drive version. Rival Ford enjoys very strong sales of its 2WD Ranger, and the rearwheel drive segment of the NZ ute market is growing rapidly.
Mitsubishi has been reaping the benefits of very good pricing offers on its Triton ute which slotted into fourth place in June. The model’s 468 sales followed on the heels of 501 registrations in May when the Triton placed third on the sale ladder.
Mitsubishi NZ’S marketing manager, Reece Congdon, said the Triton GLX-R sales promotion played a major role in the ute’s sale success in May and June.
“The popularity of our Triton GLX-R marketing campaign has been a significant contributor to this month’s success,” he said, referring to the June result. “We have sold 376 GLX-R 4WDS since the campaign launched.”
He says the custom-built Triton Huntaway shown at Fieldays “created a huge buzz…and was another driver of sales at the event.”
In June 2016, Mitsubishi retailed 329 Tritons and the January to June total was 1177. The latter compares to 2135 sales to this June 30.
Isuzu Utes’ D-max had a good June to take fifth spot with 336 sales. Isuzu places great store on Fieldays and for the past two years has had a large stand complete with off-road experience track where showgoers and customers can sample the ute on a rugged undulating dirt course.
The 2017 June total was 49 ahead of the 287 it retailed in the same month last year.
YTD to June 30, Isuzu had registered 1378 D-maxes, a useful rise on 1156 at the same time last year. In both years it was in sixth place.
If it can maintain that sales momentum to the end of the year, it’s in line to post a healthy increase on the 2390 utes it retailed in 2016.
Nissan’s Navara came home sixth in June with 292 sales. The Navara range is now all-diesel following the departure from the market of the petrol-engined DX which sold at the rate of around 20 a month. The petrol DX’S engine didn’t comply with the mandatory Euro 5 emissions regulations. The June total was slightly down on the 306 set in June 2016. Nissan NZ doesn’t attend Fieldays, but runs pricing and interest rate deals around the event.
Year-to-date to June 30 the Navara was fifth with 1713 registrations of which 189 were petrol-engined DX models. In the same period of 2016, Nissan registered 1882 utes.
Mazda is another brand that doesn’t attend Fieldays, but it sold a respectable 203 BT-50S in June, a rise of 20 over the same month of last year.
It was in seventh place and held the same position YTD with 1049 sales. That compares with 865 at the same time last year and is an indication of the growth in the overall ute market.
Volkswagen Amarok sales stepped up several gears in June, with 190 sold. That compares with 84 in June last year and was almost treble the 69 sold in May this year.
Volkswagen New Zealand has revised the Amarok range, and the addition of the V6 model has broadened the vehicle’s appeal.
Year to date to June 30, Amarok sales sat at 425, with the Fieldays month accounting for close to half that total. In the same period last year, VW had sold 384 utes.
Foton’s revised Tunland ute range – there’s an auto to join the manual double cab and a rear-wheel drive manual – also stepped up a notch in June.
Foton NZ sold 118 Tunlands in June, a shade under four times the 30 it moved in June 2016. YTD to June 30, Tunland sales were well up on last year – 358 compared to 235.
Bottom left: Special edition Edge contributed to the Toyota Hilux’s strong showing in May and June. Hilux sales in June were best on record. Bottom right: Holden sold more than 650 Colorados in June to take a solid third place for the month.
Top : Ranger wearing a special colour scheme on the Ford stand at Fieldays. Promotions around the annual show saw the Blue Oval ute make just under 1200 sales in June.
From top to bottom: Promotion around GLX-R model boosted Mitsubishi Triton sales in May and June when combined total sales peaked at more than 950. Isuzu’s revamped D-max leapfrogged the Nissan Navara to take fifth spot on the June sales ladder. Nissan’s Navara range is now all-diesel following the withdrawal of the petrol DX which could not meet Euro 5 emissions standards. Kitted out Foton Tunland on show at Fieldays. The Chinese ute’s sales are well up on last year as range expands to include automatic and 2WD versions.
Left: Sales of Volkswagen’s Amarok are running well ahead of last year following the range revamp and the arrival of the V6 Right: Mazda BT-50 sales remain well short of mainstream rivals but they show good gains over last year.