THE Ford Ranger has maintained an oh-so-slim sales lead ahead of the Toyota Hilux on the 4x4 sales charts. However, a hesitation for Australians to spend big money on new metal is reflected in an increase in sales of ‘budget’ utes. In August, the LDV T60 had a month-on-month increase of 6.9 per cent and a YTD hike of 20.9 per cent; the Great Wall Steed recorded a monthly increase of 13.6 per cent and a YTD bump of 25.4 per cent. For comparison’s sake, the two best-sellers on the market recorded a drop (or a slight increase) in sales. The Ranger recorded -6.5 per cent (month-to-month) and +0.4 per cent (YTD); the Hilux recorded -10.5 per cent (month-to-month) and -0.8 per cent (YTD).

Fewer people are dropping their hard-earned on a new vehicle, with the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) segment in particular showing a downturn of 8.6 per cent compared to August 2018 - 19,165 last August versus 17,513 units this August. Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Tony Weber, puts the sales decline - the 17th consecutive month of declining overall sales - down to a number of factors.

“It is well known that Australia is one of the most competitive markets in the world, and with the current economic environment it is also one of the most difficult markets in the world,” he said. “This environment stems from a slow start to the year, with tight financial lending, State and Federal elections and a general lack of consumer confidence, both here in Australia and on an international basis.”