With toyota leading the sales charts, we take a look at the bakkie segment, this is one segment that is setting the automotive sales charts alight, with the top selling vehicle being one. Setting a blistering pace is the Hilux with sales over 3000 almost every month, making the other car brands play catchup and second fiddle. The Ford Ranger is keeping up with the leader registering over 2000 units monthly (with or without the Truck Month Offer). These are the two bakkie king with out a doubt. The real argument is which one is better and we have a real debate on our hands.
The NP200 is the only one in its class as there is no competition offering from other makers. Boy, remember when we used to have option of Opel Corsa Utility, Proton Arena, Fiat Strada, Ford Bantam, Volkswagen Caddy and even the indestructible 1400 Champ.. one can’t help but reminisce of those good ole days. Anyways, the NP200 is ruling the half-ton bakkie segment, registering well over 1000 units on a monthly basis. I think it needs challengers ASAP, don’t you?
Isuzu KB is another favourite in the segment, tough as nails, popular and very much reputable, this bakkie has been around the country since the days when bakkies had round shaped headlamps and steering column mounted gear lever! That’s a while back eh! Come to think of it my Mother wasn’t even born yet at the time! At some point in the mid-to-late 90’s this used to be the best selling bakkie, especially when Toyota decided not to bring the fifth generation Hilux to South Africa but rather continue with the production of the fourth generation model to soldier on. Isuzu, presumably, took advantage of that when they outsold the Hilux in 1997. Remember when the dashboard used to have buttons around the the speedo cluster? Sad if you don’t.
NP300. I see what’s going on here, Nissan keeps the old Hardbody bakkie in production knowing very well that it is one dependable model, being in production since the early 2000’s. Clever piece of business here and I know a businessman-mate of mine with two of these in his fleet. Formula: No re-tooling cost, tried and tested chassis, trusted nameplate and brand and most importantly affordable price. This is why the car sells in numbers like it does every month, selling well over 700 units, one feels they can’t go wrong with purchasing one.
The new Navara is teething to say the least. I remember their 2006 TV advert pay off line: “Enough Said”. It paved a way for what was a compelling package, good looks, powerful engines that included a 3.0 V6 diesel unit as well! Sadly it was never offered to be a high volume seller, as there was no single cab entry level, although it had a Club Cab. That Single Cab void, my dear friend was and is still filled in by the Hardbody/NP300. Enough Said!
Let’s talk about the Amarok. Shall we? Ok cool, I call it the SUV of bakkies. The Ayatollah of bakkies, this car, if you ignore the reliability issues is quite a car, comfortable, quiet on the road, well designed inside-out and well mannered. It used to be offered with a single cab variant until a few months back and now simply a lifestyle double cab bakkie. Offered with impressive 2.0 TDI and BiTDI diesel engines as well as the range topping 3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion. It struggles with the numbers compared with the leaders, selling over 150 units on month-to-month basis and this is low considering that the Hilux alone sell over 3000! Question is will Volkswagen be happy and content with that or are they cooking a plan to increase sales? I’d suggest them filling the 1/2 Ton Bakkie gap left by the Caddy Bakkie and challenge the NP200, there is a Saveiro already in Brazil, just like Fiat did with the Strada. More than anything, we want it!
Mazda BT50 is simply drowning. Below 100 units every month is dismal for an established bakkie and I’m not quite sure why it’s struggling so much. Let me take a crack at it: The looks. With news that the next generation model will likely be based on next-gen Isuzu KB and no more with the Ford Ranger, we figure that may improve the sales outlook, also improved looks may just do the trick. On the same accord as the BT-50 is the Mitsubishi Triton and its spin-off cousin Fiat Fullback, one will ask themselves if the Hilux and Ranger are so dominant such that these the Triton is simply a forgotten offering? Maybe so but Mitsubishi needs a turnaround strategy plan to kick the Triton up to the top.
Lastly, the Land Cruiser Bakkie. I don’t have much to say here other than to ask how are the guys at Toyota managing to still sell more than 200 units of this golden-oldie beast? Perhaps it’s a charming no-nonsense package that does what a bakkie needs to do and doing it well while offering no trouble at all in return. It’s not cheap either so it has to be one impressive offering for the buyers to keep coming back, such as the fire department, farmers and construction guys to name a few.
We’re simply monitoring the trends in this segment and it’s fascinating.