Why Australians like outdated cars with models due to be replaced topping the sales chart

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Australian motorists have a habit of buying cars brand new that are about to be replaced.

The Ford Ranger ute was Australia’s number one bestseller in April for the first time since 2017 even though an all-new shape is coming in 2022.

While the Toyota HiLux has been Australia’s top selling car since 2016, the Ranger has on some rare occasions outsold it, including in July, August and September last year. 

The Ranger, however, hasn’t been the overall bestseller in Australia since September 2017.

Australian motorists have a habit of buying cars brand new that are about to be replaced. The Ford Ranger ute was Australia's number one bestseller in April for the first time since 2017 even though an all-new shape is coming in 2022

Australian motorists have a habit of buying cars brand new that are about to be replaced. The Ford Ranger ute was Australia’s number one bestseller in April for the first time since 2017 even though an all-new shape is coming in 2022

Australia’s bestsellers

1. Ford Ranger: up 226 per cent to 5,021

2. Toyota RAV4: up 135.8 per cent to 4,506

3. Toyota HiLux: up 80.5 per cent to 4,222

4. Toyota LandCruiser: up 98.2 per cent to 3,177 (including 2,595 of the 200 series wagon)

5.  Mitsubishi Triton: up 424.1 per cent to 2,458

6. Mazda CX-5: up 263.1 per cent to 2,353

7. Toyota Corolla: up 73.5 per cent to 2,073

8. Mitsubishi ASX: up 482.8 per cent to 2,028

9. Hyundai i30: up 188.5 per cent to 2,005

10. Isuzu D-Max: up 163 per cent to 1,999

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data comparing April 2021 with April 2020

In April, 5,021 Rangers were sold, with sales tripling or surging by 226 per cent compared with a year earlier, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data showed.

The Ranger had a clear edge in the 4×4 stakes, with 4,671 of them sold in April compared with 3,315 for the equivalent four-wheel drive HiLux.

A new model in 2022 will also form the basis of the next Volkswagen Amarok. 

Australia has a long tradition of outdated cars, that are soon to be replaced, being the number one on the sales chart – whether locally-made or imported models had more buyers.

Motoring expert Toby Hagon, the editor of EV Central, said Australian motorists felt assured that an outdated model would be more reliable.

‘Sometimes you’ll end up with the last of the line being the best equipped throughout that car’s life,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘There’s another argument to be made that some people just don’t like buying a new model because of the uncertainty of whether there might be some engineering issues or reliability problems with it.’ 

Ford had managed to keep the decade-old Ranger fresh with a series of new models in the range from the FX4 Max to the Wildtrak X to the Raptor X.

‘Ford’s been doing a bit with Ranger recently, little tweaks and changes to increase its appeal,’ Mr Hagon said.

‘They’re constantly tinkering with the model lineup to try and make it more appealing and get someone who has a four, five, six-year old one to step into a new one.’

Even on the used car market, Ranger prices have soared with average values for three-year models climbing by 38 per cent since the start of the pandemic to $39,800, Datium Insights data showed.

The HiLux, which dominates the tradie end of the ute market, has been Australia's bestseller every year since 2016 and maintained the top spot in 2019, even though a substantially facelifted model was due out in 2020

The HiLux, which dominates the tradie end of the ute market, has been Australia’s bestseller every year since 2016 and maintained the top spot in 2019, even though a substantially facelifted model was due out in 2020

The HiLux, which dominates the tradie end of the ute market, has been Australia’s bestseller every year since 2016 and maintained the top spot in 2019, even though a substantially facelifted model was due out in 2020.

Secondhand HiLuxes has risen in price by 29 per cent since the start of last year to $37,200. 

In 2012 the Mazda3, the first-ever imported car to be number one in Australia, was the bestseller for the second year running, even though an all-new shape was due to arrive in late 2013.

Mr Hagon said special runout deals and a short-lived shift to smaller cars had boosted Mazda3 sales, before the Toyota Corolla took over as the bestseller.

In 2012 the Mazda3, the first-ever imported car to be number one in Australia, was the bestseller for the second year running, even though an all-new shape was due to arrive in late 2013

In 2012 the Mazda3, the first-ever imported car to be number one in Australia, was the bestseller for the second year running, even though an all-new shape was due to arrive in late 2013

‘Around about that time, we were also seeing a pretty fundamental shift in the new car market,’ he said.  

An Australian-made car hasn’t been the top-selling vehicle since 2010, when the VE Holden Commodore was No. 1 in the same year imported car tariffs were reduced to 5 per cent from 10 per cent. 

The Commodore was Australia’s undisputed bestseller from 1996 to 2010, thanks to strong fleet sales and the presence of local industry protection.

During that time, the VS Commodore was the annual bestseller in 1996 even though the all-new VT Commodore was due in 1997 – the first completely new shape since 1988.

In 2005, the VZ Commodore was Australia's bestselling car even though the all-new VE model was due out in 2006 – the first all-new shape in nine years

In 2005, the VZ Commodore was Australia’s bestselling car even though the all-new VE model was due out in 2006 – the first all-new shape in nine years

In 2005, the VZ Commodore was Australia’s bestselling car even though the all-new VE model was due out in 2006 – the first all-new shape in nine years.

That was the era of the Monaro coupe, the Adventra SUV wagon and the Crewman dual-cab ute.

‘There was a lot of interest, a lot of focus on Holden – the Commodore benefited from that,’ Mr Hagon said. 

Australian-made cars have also been the bestseller, even though a substantially facelifted model was due in the following year.

The ageing EB Series 2 and ED (pictured) Ford Falcons took line honours in 1993 even though the sleeker EF Falcon was due out in 1994.

The ageing EB Series 2 and ED (pictured) Ford Falcons took line honours in 1993 even though the sleeker EF Falcon was due out in 1994.

The ageing EB Series 2 and ED Ford Falcons took line honours in 1993 even though the sleeker EF Falcon was due out in 1994.

The VX Commodore was the bestseller in 2001 despite the fact the substantially facelifted VY Commodore was due out in 2002.

That ended a decade ago when motorists began shifting more to SUVs and fleet buyers allowed drivers to choose the car they wanted rather than be assigned one.

‘The Australian car industry was changing,’ Mr Hagon said.

Toyota LandCruiser sales in April have doubled to 3,177, compared with a year earlier, even though the 200-series wagon is being replaced by an all-new 300-series shape, that reportedly won't have a V8 option

Toyota LandCruiser sales in April have doubled to 3,177, compared with a year earlier, even though the 200-series wagon is being replaced by an all-new 300-series shape, that reportedly won’t have a V8 option

‘We were tending towards SUVs, import tariffs were being reduced, suddenly imported cars were starting to get more appealing to a lot of people.’ 

In 2021, the ban on Australians travelling overseas for a holiday has seen demand surge for four-wheel drives, including one that is being replaced this year.

Toyota LandCruiser sales in April have doubled to 3,177, compared with a year earlier, even though the 200-series wagon is being replaced by an all-new 300-series shape, that reportedly won’t have a V8 option. 

The larger four-wheel drive was Australia’s fourth most popular new car last month. 

Even used models are soaring in value with prices for a four-year-old version climbing by 18 per cent since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, Datium Insights data showed. 

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