American pickup truck sales surge as Australian rivalry heats up

Increasing scrutiny and public backlash against American pickups haven’t slowed Australian sales of supersized utes, with their market share continuing to grow as more brands enter the segment.

At the end of 2024’s first quarter (January to March inclusive), 2623 full-sized pickups were reported as sold in Australia – consisting of vehicles from the Chevrolet Silverado and Silverado HD, Ram 1500/2500/3500, Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra model lines.

This represents a 16.3 per cent increase on the 2256 pickups delivered in the same period last year, though the American-sourced models still account for less than one per cent of all new car sales in Australia.

For context, Ford sold 5661 examples of its best-selling Ranger ute in March alone. 

The Ram 1500 is still the pickup market leader with 886 sales so far this year, however it’s the only model of the bunch to experience a year-to-date drop, having recorded 1498 first-quarter deliveries in 2023.

Ram has been phasing out its more affordable DS-series 1500s in favour of an expanded range of newer DT-series models.

The arrival of the Ford F-150 – now second-placed with 616 sales – is likely to be another factor behind the Ram’s deliveries drop, as the Blue Oval’s pickup undercuts the DT-series Big Horn 1500 by $13,000.

Australian deliveries of the Ford F-150 began in December 2023, though its rollout has been hampered by three recalls and a stop-sale notice which has since been cleared.

It also sits ahead of its Chevrolet Silverado 1500 rival in the sales race, with the bowtie-badged pickup notching up 548 deliveries to begin the year.

Sitting in fourth among the battle of the non-heavy duty pickups is the Toyota Tundra, though its Australian rollout is currently limited to a “customer evaluation program”, where about 300 locals are leasing the vehicle and have to report back to the manufacturer across a 12-month period.

Provided this 12-month process operates smoothly, it’s expected retail sales of the Tundra will begin next year, with industry pricing guides listing the model’s single Limited hybrid variant being priced at $145,990 before on-road costs.

A total of 122 examples were registered in the first quarter of 2024.

The sales race between the four aforementioned pickups is also interesting as the Ford F-150 is the only model not locally remanufactured to right-hand drive by Walkinshaw Automotive.

All right-hand drive examples of the Ford F-150 are converted in Melbourne by RMA Automotive, the brand’s Thai-based engineering partner.

Australian-delivered Ram 1500s have been converted to right-hand drive by Walkinshaw – the former parent of Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) – and its importer Ateco in a venture branded as American Special Vehicles (ASV).

While the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 was also being converted in the same building as the Ram 1500 for a period, demand for the latter saw the former operation moved to a smaller facility in 2022, with Walkinshaw putting more of its eggs in the Ram’s basket.

Toyota also enlisted the help of Walkinshaw to perform the necessary conversion for the Tundra, though it’s understood the 12-month wait for it to go on sale to the wider public is to make sure the program is up to the car giant’s rigorous standards.

Among the heavy-duty pickup sales race, the Chevrolet Silverado HD is currently holding a comfortable lead over the Ram 2500 and 3500 twins, having notched up 297 deliveries to start the year against its rival’s 153 combined sales.

Model Sales (January to March 2024) Percentage change vs 2023
Ram 1500 886 Down 40.9 per cent
Ford F-150 616 N/A (not on sale last year)
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 548 Up 35.3 per cent
Chevrolet Silverado HD 297 Up 38.8 per cent
Ram 2500 144 Up 5.1 per cent
Toyota Tundra 122 N/A (not on sale last year) 
Ram 3500 10 Up 400 per cent
Total 2623 Up 16.3 per cent

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