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Toyota Hilux versus Ford Ranger - Here's which bakkie reigned supreme in 2018

For the last decade, this has been an increasingly close-run contest between America and Japan. Whereas Toyota's Hilux has been South Africa's most popular bakkie (and vehicle) for as long as most of us remember, its dominance has been challenged most credibly by Ford's Ranger.

Brutal bakkie rivalry

There is a sound argument that the quality of Toyota's current eight-generation Hilux is a direct result of engineering focus brought on by the excellence of Ford's T6 Ranger.

 In the brutal bakkie rivalry between Hilux and Ranger, most other brands - even those which were once second-placed challengers to Toyota - have been pushed to the periphery of local sales charts.

 As the automotive industry returns to work after its summer vacation, total local sales are finally be collated and comparisons calculated. The scores can be tabulated and South Africa's fiercest automotive debate: Settled. Which was the best-selling bakkie of 2018?

When the total sales data for 2018 is crunched, Toyota's Hilux sold 40 018 units, and Ford’s Ranger, 30 141. The margin of victory for Toyota was a notable 32%, making it an inarguable fact that South Africa's most popular bakkie (and vehicle) remains the Hilux.

Timing is everything

How did Toyota come to dominate in 2018, which was a torrid year in terms of economic growth for South Africa? A consistently expanding range, offering customers exactly what they need without confusing the market with a peculiar or inappropriate specification, was Hilux's secret to success.

The global cosmetic enhancement for Hilux, which debuted locally in June of last year, with a special edition Dakar version of Hilux, enabled Toyota to harvest immense sales momentum toward the end of 2018 as its product portfolio was expanded by late August.

More Ford bakkies

And Ford? Timing is everything and Toyota had the advantage of leveraging a significant appearance upgrade and range enlargement into Q3 of 2018.

Ranger is due for a notable modernisation this year, which will see the introduction of a new look and significant mechanical upgrades, not to mention the addition of Ford's high-performance Raptor edition bakkie.These elements will all undoubtedly serve Ford well, although they were always going to fall outside of the company's 2018 strategic scheduling. 

Something worth considering in explaining the large margin of sales victory for Toyota in 2018, is understanding how the two companies strategise their domestic and export bakkie business in South Africa.                                                                        

Ford has a much stronger export orientation, especially when the Rand is weak, which was a theme among a volatile 2018 for emerging market currencies. 

An example of how export orientated Ford was last year is illustrated by its total Ranger build numbers for the last month of 2018.

Total Ranger production in Ford's Silverton facility for December was 1 1091, of which 1 931 bakkies were for local customers and 9 160 exported.

Toyota's Prospecton plant built 8 129 Hilux bakkies in the same period, with the split being 2 907 local registrations and 5 222 exports. 

When it comes to scoring the best-selling bakkie of all, local sales are the only number which counts, and here there can be no doubt: Hilux remains untouchable in South Africa.


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