The best-selling vehicle in the country could be dethroned in 2023, as Toyota Australia admits the competition is fiercer than ever before.
The Japanese brand’s mainstay HiLux ute – which accounted for a huge 64,391 sales in 2022 – has been the best-selling vehicle nameplate in Australia for seven years straight, but it is at risk of losing that position in 2023, Toyota admits.
Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia vice president of sales, marketing and franchise operations, intimated the brand is up against it in 2023 when it comes to what he calls, “super competitors” in the ute space.
“HiLux is facing a big challenge this year. We certainly respect our competitors, it’s a challenging market, and we don’t take our position for granted,” he said.
The next-best-selling vehicle in the market in 2022 was the Ford Ranger, with 47,479 units sold – but that number was down due to the introduction of the new-generation model, and the inherent crossover period between old and new.
While the HiLux was up 22 per cent in 2022, the Ranger dropped 5.6 per cent. But with the Ranger looking to have its first full year on sale – and with supply expected to improve – the Ford ute could well give the Toyota a real run for its money.
Ford is set to add a new flagship luxury-focused model, Platinum, to its range in a few months, while it is also likely that other editions will arrive throughout the year.
Toyota is also planning on a new addition to its range – the HiLux GR Sport – in the third quarter of 2023. That model will bring a 10 per cent power bump and some further spec adjustments.
“Ultimately I do think the final result will come down to supply, rather than demand,” said Mr Hanley, who stated he’s seeing an easing of demand to a “pre-COVID” level, despite having seen what he called “beyond extraordinary”.
“During the past two years we’ve seen customer enquiry in Australia at extraordinary levels – in fact, beyond extraordinary. I can tell you in my 40 years in this industry, I’ve never seen anything quite like what we’ve seen in the last two years, in terms of extraordinary demand.
“The traditional playbook was torn up as consumer demand soared, driven by factors such as the surge in domestic travel, and the ability of vehicles to support physical distancing.
“Now, though, purchase behaviour is moderating. And cost of living pressures are increasing. As a result, we are seeing enquiry levels return to what I call a pre-COVID normal,” said Mr Hanley.