VFACTS 2023: How the Ford Ranger ended the Toyota HiLux’s seven-year winning streak - SUV VEHICLE

VFACTS 2023: How the Ford Ranger ended the Toyota HiLux’s seven-year winning streak


A Ford won the annual Australian new-car sales race for the first time in nearly three decades. Here’s how the battle – at one point as close as 379 sales between first and second – unfolded.

The Ford Ranger ute has defeated the Toyota HiLux – Australia’s top-selling new motor vehicle for the past seven years – after posting its all-time sales record in the final month of the year.

The Ranger – designed and engineered primarily in Australia but manufactured in Thailand – is the first Ford motor vehicle to top the Australian new-car sales charts since the Ford Falcon edged out the Holden Commodore in 1995.

It ends the seven-year winning streak of the Thai-built Toyota HiLux, behind which the Ford Ranger has finished runner-up for the previous six years in a row.

The Ranger finished ahead by 2245 vehicles, after leading the monthly sales race in 2023 seven times, to the Toyota’s five victories.

While industry analysts predicted a close race between the vehicles in December 2023, it proved to be a convincing victory for the Ranger.

At the end of September the Toyota HiLux was 1228 sales ahead in the year-to-date tally – but record Ford Ranger deliveries whittled the gap down to 779 sales to the end of October, and 379 sales to the end of November.

The Ford Ranger broke its own sales record again in December 2023 with 7767 deliveries, compared to the HiLux’s 5143.

After posting record sales in 2022, Toyota HiLux deliveries were down 5.1 per cent to 61,111 last year – while the Ford Ranger was up 33.4 per cent to 63,356 sales following the arrival of a new model the prior year.

Over the previous six years the Toyota HiLux has led the Ford Ranger by 4365 sales in 2017, 9561 sales in 2018, 6689 sales in 2019, 4183 sales in 2020, 2522 sales in 2021, and 16,912 sales in 2022.

Both Ford and Toyota acknowledged throughout 2023 the win would go to the car maker that could dock more ships – and deliver cars to customers the quickest – rather than write the highest number of orders.

Top-selling Ford Ranger models have attracted wait times of 12 months or more at certain points last year – while Toyota battled production slowdowns across its line-up in the first half of 2023, though wait times are now down to about three months.

In the second half of the year, sales of both pick-ups hit the accelerator – with the Ford Ranger breaking its monthly sales record in October (6215 sales), November (6301 sales) and December (7767 sales).

Meanwhile the Toyota HiLux posted its second-highest monthly sales on record in June 2023, with 6142 sales – though it is well behind the 7582 deliveries reported in June 2022, and the Ranger’s December result.

Ford has rented a ship to exclusively freight Ranger utes – and Everest four-wheel-drive wagons – to Australia from the factory in Thailand.

The Ford Ranger surpassed its previous annual sales record of 50,270 set in 2021 with a month left to go.

Ford regained its lead in the 4×4 ute sales race – with 58,261 deliveries to Toyota’s 48,995 – after losing it to the HiLux last year, while the Toyota remained the 4×2 ute sales leader, with 12,116 deliveries reported ahead of the Isuzu D-Max (5759) and then the Ford Ranger (5095).

The year after Ford’s last annual new-car sales win in 1995, the Holden Commodore commenced its 15-year winning streak – the longest of any nameplate in Australian history – over which time Falcon fell from second to sixth on the charts.

“Well done to Ford, and congratulations on the Ranger result,” Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley told Drive today.

“There’s no doubt Toyota would have liked to make it eight years in a row as the number-one car, but we never take our position for granted – it’s a very competitive market.”

While it has lost the national lead, Mr Hanley said the Toyota HiLux remains the top seller in the Northern Territory for the 22nd year in a row, Queensland for the 17th year in a row, and Western Australia for the 16th year in a row.

When asked if there was anything else Toyota could have done to hold onto the HiLux’s winning streak, Mr Hanley said: “We believe the result for HiLux is natural demand. It’s a good result, 60,000 sales for a vehicle [late] in its life cycle is pretty good.

“[Last] year for Toyota, it was a supply and delivery race, not a popularity contest. I can tell you we and our dealers delivered every single HiLux we had in stock to our customers.

The executive said: “Ultimately the market will decide but what I can say is the 61,111 vehicle sales of HiLux were quality sales and are the natural demand of the market.”

Mr Hanley said the company has “exciting plans” for the HiLux – in addition to the 48-volt mild-hybrid model due in the coming months – but would not be drawn on what the new models are.

In a written media statement, Ford Australia boss Andrew Birkic said: “This number one spot is thanks to the combined passion of all these people. Without any one of them, Ranger wouldn’t be where it is today.”

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

Read more about Alex MisoyannisLinkIcon


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