Australians are buying more utes than ever before. In fact, one tick under the 190,000 4×4 pick-ups sold last year, making it the largest single market segment by volume in 2021, beating midsize SUVs by nearly 10,000 sales.
It is also a very profitable segment for manufacturers. Most of Australia’s best-selling utes are sourced from Thailand or China, where they are much cheaper to manufacture and export than Japan or the US.
But how big is the ute segment in Australia compared to other countries?
Read more about selling ute
Car Guide has obtained data from all major players in the ute segment revealing the position of the Australian market globally, based on the sales volume of each model.
As it turns out, Australia may well be one of the largest ute markets in the world.
Let’s look at the big gun first.
In Australia, the Toyota HiLux has been the country’s best-selling and best-selling model for the past six years. But does that mean Australia is the number one market globally for HiLux sales? Not too.
We are number two behind the world’s dominant ute market – Thailand. This is not surprising given the huge domestic ute market in the Southeast Asian country.
Last year more than 128,000 HiLux examples were sold in Thailand where they are sourced, compared to 52,800 in Australia. South Africa (36,000) and Argentina (24,700) are also significant markets for the HiLux, which makes sense considering the ute is manufactured in both countries.
The largest market for another Toyota ute, the LandCruiser 70 Series, is Africa, followed by Australia.
Given that the Ford Ranger is designed and engineered in Australia, it is the most ‘Australian’ vehicle left on sale here since the end of mass vehicle production a few years ago.
But despite the fact that this is the ute and the second best-selling model overall here, Australia is only the number two market for Ranger sales.
It might be built in Thailand for Australia and many other markets, but the top market for the Ranger globally is the United States. The current Ranger goes on sale in the US in 2019, about eight years after it was introduced here. But, it was also built at the Ford Wayne, Michigan plant.
The Ranger wasn’t even America’s best-selling mid-size car last year. Toyota Tacoma holds the title with more than 220,000 units. Rangers manage 95,000 – about 45,000 more than Australia. Thailand and South Africa trailed Australia for Ranger sales.
The Mitsubishi Triton has seen a surge in sales in Australia this year and is third overall for ute sales behind the HiLux and Ranger.
Although it has been a favorite of Aussie buyers for years, Australia is the second highest volume market behind its manufacturing base in Thailand. It is also built in Brazil which is the Triton’s third largest market.
The Isuzu D-Max is very popular in Australia and sales are increasing with a fresh third generation model.
Like the Triton, it sells more models in Thailand where it is made, but Australia is second to sales. In fact, 30 percent of all D-Max and MU-X exports from Thailand to Australia. So, we remain the main market for Japanese brands.
The Mazda BT-50 may be a twin of the D-Max, but their market presence is very different.
Despite being built with D-Max in Thailand, Australia is the number one market for the BT-50 globally, by a decent margin.
The BT-50 is not sold in the market as much as other utes, but Australia takes 53 per cent of all BT-50 volume. Last year Mazda sold 15,662 in Australia, which is well ahead of the next markets on the list, Chile (3399) and New Zealand (2040).
Australia ranks lower in terms of the Nissan Navara. In fact, we are fourth in volume globally behind Mexico, Thailand and China. But on a per capita basis, Australia is the top market for Navara.
Australia’s Navara sales were 15,113 last year, enough for 13th the place as a whole.
Finally, we come to the Volkswagen Amarok. The top market for the soon-to-be-replaced workhorse is actually Argentina, where it was built. So no big surprises there. However, Australia is the second largest market for VW.