Sales of 4×4 utes or pickups hit record January highs last month, with sales in the segment sitting at 13,266 units – up 23.4 per cent over the same month in 2020, more than double the overall market growth rate.

    Industry figures going back to 2008 show that Australia has not had a January where so many of these workhorses were counted as sold. The previous 4×4 ute sales record for the year’s first month was 12,196 units, achieved in 2018.

    The market share for 4×4 utes last month sat at 16.7 per cent, while the same segment’s share 10 years ago in January was a mere 8.0 per cent. January is rarely a big month for fleet purchasers.

    Reinforcing this, four utes – the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Mitsubishi Triton – sat in the top 10 overall models, while the Mazda BT-50 made it five inside the top 20 overall models. The majority of all these sold were the expensive 4×4 dual cabs.

    It seems likely that a combination of factors are at play: the inability for people to go overseas makes the prospect of an adventure-ready vehicle more appealing, and there are numerous new or updated utes that have recently hit the market.

    Moreover, the government’s (strings attached, in terms of the cost cut-off and payload requirements) instant asset write-off program for ‘work vehicles’ continues.

    Fascinatingly, the sales figures also show that sales of light commercial vehicles – of which 4×4 utes comprise the lion’s share – to private buyers shot up by a staggering 51.2 per cent, whereas business fleet sales grew 17.3 per cent.

    Sales of 4×4 utes to government departments and rental companies actually went backwards relative to January 2020’s tally.

    The segment leader was Toyota’s recently updated HiLux with 3090 4×4 sales for the month, up nearly 35 per cent. It edged out the Ford Ranger which totalled 2802 4×4 sales, up just under 15 per cent.

    The cut-price Mitsubishi Triton finished third on 1723 sales, actually down 6.9 per cent. Isuzu’s new D-Max, which is subject to supply shortfalls and wait lists on the high-spec X-Terrain of several months, was fourth with 1416 4×4 sales, up a lazy 200 per cent.

    The Isuzu’s twin, Mazda’s BT-50, was fifth with 891 of the 4×4 models sold (up 121 per cent). It therefore edged Toyota’s 70 Series LandCruiser cab chassis (889, up 74 per cent), the soon-to-be-updated Nissan Navara 4×4 (830, up 35 per cent), and the Volkswagen Amarok (546 sales, up 1.7 per cent).

    With severe stock shortages on the Golf (a brand new model is nigh) and Tiguan (a facelift is around the corner), the Amarok was actually Volkswagen’s single top-selling model last month.

    Next in the pecking order were the cut-price Chinese LDV T60 (375 sales, up 81 per cent) and new GWM Ute (277 units in its first month on sale). The SsangYong Musso was behind them with 133 units (up 280 per cent).

    Some expensive and smaller-volume American metal rounded out the notable sales list: the Ram 1500 (119), Jeep Gladiator (71 sales), and Chevy Silverado (64 sales).

    Sales of 4×2 and 4×4 utes

    January of each year4×24×4

    Sales in January 2021 by model

    Toyota Hilux 4X43,090
    Ford Ranger 4X42,802
    Mitsubishi Triton 4X41,723
    Isuzu Ute D-Max 4X41,416
    Mazda BT-50 4X4891
    Toyota Landcruiser PU/CC889
    Nissan Navara 4X4830
    Volkswagen Amarok 4X4546
    LDV T60 4X4375
    GWM Ute 4X4277
    Ssangyong Musso 4X4133
    Jeep Gladiator71
    Chevrolet Silverado64
    Ram 1500 Express43
    Ram 1500 Laramie40
    Ram 1500 Warlock36
    GWM Steed 4X419
    Mercedes-Benz X-Class 4X419
    Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon CC2

    Previous monthly reports

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers