The hated US trend takes over Australia

The hated US trend takes over Australia

They’re as Aussie as meat pies and backyard crickets – but there’s a sad reason the iconic ute is a rare sight on our streets these days.

In recent years sales of American “pick-up trucks” have boomed Down Under, with figures showing that US-style vehicles – like the RAM 1500 Chevrolet Silverado – are skyrocketing in popularity.

The trend was also recently highlighted on Reddit, where one user wrote, “Why are there suddenly more American ‘trucks’ on the streets? You are an absolute eye-catcher. Extremely square and “boxy” looking. Why do people choose our paraphernalia?”

The post was deluged with responses, with thousands of Redditors agreeing with the original post and offering a range of theories as to what started the trend.

“We don’t make paraphernalia anymore,” one person wrote, while another added, “We should never have abandoned the auto industry from our shores – we should have fought to maintain our place in the manufacturing world, especially given what’s going on along the way.” happened the Covid years.”

“That is due to the Covid government increasing the tax offset for equipment purchases. It went up to the point where you could afford those paraphernalia, $150k I think. So many more bought lately,” claimed another.

It was clear the vehicles weren’t popular with many Reddit users, as posters variously labeled them as “big and obnoxious” and “disgusting gas guzzlers.”

And that’s not just a theory – there are actually more vehicles of this type on our roads than ever before.

In 2021, General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) reported 2,118 Chevrolet Silverado sales, and earlier this month, the 5,000th locally remanufactured vehicle rolled off the assembly line in Victoria.

And RAM Trucks announced last month that 604 units had been sold in September – a 45 percent increase from year to date 2021, with a total of 17,115 RAMs sold to Australian customers since production began.

This surge in demand has caused other auto giants to sit up and take notice, with one of America’s best-selling vehicles – the Ford F-150 pickup – heading to Australian shores next year, followed by the anticipated arrival of the Toyota Tundra Late 2023 or early 2024.

Like the popular RAM 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado, the F-150 is imported as a left-hand drive model and then locally converted to right-hand drive, with this relatively new conversion opportunity proving to be one of the main forces driving the upswing.

The trend also emerged after the death of the Australian car industry after Ford, Toyota and GM Holden all closed their local manufacturing plants in 2016 and 2017.

But Alex Jeffs, automotive expert at comparison site Finder, told that while cars are no longer made on Australian shores, we “still have a massive appetite for Utes”.

“That’s why these global brands have found ways to bring their left-hand drive vehicles here and convert them in a fairly inexpensive way,” he explained.

“Australian vehicle manufacturing may be gone, but the right-wing conversion industry is pushing ahead. In mid-2019, RAM even had to switch to 24-hour production to keep up with demand.”

Aside from the Aussies’ deep passion for Utes, Mr Jeffs said there were also several other factors at play that explained the explosion in popularity of US vehicles.

“Covid, for example, has seen the rise of the staycation. As more people buy RVs, a lot of these big trucks have a lot more towing capacity than your standard ute,” he said.

“The popular RAM 1500 can tow 4.5 tonnes compared to the Toyota HiLux which is one of Australia’s favorites and is good at 3.5 tonnes.

“You also see a lot of them equipped with tool boxes and things like that on the back, and since some of these big trucks are used for work purposes, there are tax incentives that make them attractive to companies.”

James Voortman, chairman of the board of the Australian Automotive Dealers Association, agreed that the right-handed conversion industry has been a game changer.

“The main reason (behind the growth) is that these brands like RAM and Chevrolet are working with local manufacturers to start the conversion… and now it’s being done at scale,” he said.

“Demand has always been there, but we’ve never had factory-supported conversions before, which is why we’ve never seen the volumes we’re seeing now.”

Mr. Voortman pointed out that RAM has grown from just 400 vehicles sold in 2017 to almost 5000 this year alone, proving the trend.

“This is massive growth and we’re seeing the trend continue as a number of other brands enter the market,” he predicted.

He said the demand was because these vehicles were finally becoming readily available and meeting specific needs.

“They have tremendous pulling power – they can tow 1000kg more than a traditional double cab, so traditions that haul heavy machinery and people that tow big boats, caravans or trailers benefit from it,” he said.

“They also double as a lifestyle vehicle as you can drive off-road and not give up the ability to transport the family as it’s still a very comfortable car.

“For these reasons, we’re likely to see even more sales in the coming years.”

However, Mr Voortman said the trend did not spell the death of the classic Australian ute.

“We’re still seeing pretty strong sales of Ford Rangers and Toyota HiLuxes, and while we’re seeing massive growth in US-style pickups, they still make up a small portion of the overall ute market,” he said.

“Nonetheless, I understand why they’re quite divisive vehicles – they’re very large and some people feel threatened by the size, they don’t like the fact that they have to try to park next to them at the local mall. ” he said.

“There’s also a growing voice from the environment questioning whether we need these types of cars, although it’s fair to say a lot of these vehicles are going to be electrified overseas… so we could see more electric cars in Australia.”

He said while the nation faces economic uncertainty in the near future, he believes the vehicles would still prove popular.

“We clearly have economic headwinds ahead of us and it will be interesting to see how that affects the new vehicle market, although US-style pickups are often used for work purposes and are treated by tradition as a necessity rather than it would.” provide some protection against these economic forces,” he said.

“Who knows where we’ll be in the next 12 months, but the demand for these vehicles is very high and it’s more a question of how many we can make than how many people want to buy.”

Bob Graczyk, Head of RAM International, recently addressed the sales boom, revealing that Australia was considered a “super important market” outside of North America given its “phenomenal” growth in recent years.

“Outside the US, we sell more full-size pickup trucks than Ford and GM combined, and Australia with a market share of more than 70 percent is a big contributor,” he said.

“There’s a dedicated group here that loves RAM and it shows in everything they do in Australia, so we’re very proud that there are over 17,000 people out there driving our trucks.”

To keep up with demand, RAM Trucks Australia’s “significantly expanded manufacturing facility” now has “three dedicated production lines running 24 hours a day”.

With 641 employees, RAM Trucks Australia is now the largest vehicle manufacturer in the country.

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