The Toyota HiLux has led the Australian new-car market for the fifth successive year, but the Ford Ranger is closing the gap, finishing second outright for the fourth year in a row.
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The Toyota HiLux ute maintained its title as Australia’s favourite car after notching up its fifth win in a row, according to official sales figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

The 2020 result also marks the 20th year in a row the Toyota HiLux has been Number One in the Northern Territory, the 14th year in a row it has been the top-seller in Queensland, and the 13th year in a row at the top of the sales charts in West Australia.

The Ford Ranger ute held onto second place outright nationally for the fourth year in a row, and once again closed the gap to the market-leading Toyota HiLux.

The Toyota and Ford utes pushed through the coronavirus crisis and delivered stronger than expected results due to the Federal Government’s instant asset write-off tax incentive for small businesses, and an increase in the number of Australians holidaying at home in the wake of international travel restrictions.

Figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show Toyota reported 45,176 HiLux utes as sold in 2020 (down 5.2 per cent compared to 2019), ahead of 40,973 Ford Rangers (up 0.7 per cent) when all versions are counted, as is industry practice.

Four-wheel-drive versions of the Ford Ranger ute outsold the equivalent Toyota HiLux in seven months of last year – and for the last two calendar years in a row.

However, the Toyota HiLux secured top spot outright in 2020 after once again dominating the 4x2 tradie ute market (see tables below).

The 2020 results mean that the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger have swapped the lead in the 4x4 ute sales race for much of the last five years, however, Ford has lead for the previous two (see table below).

The Toyota HiLux managed to take out top honours after reporting 45,176 cars as sold in 2020, roughly half the number of cars it took to lead the market in the Holden Commodore versus Ford Falcon era of 20 years ago.

Indeed, only two cars have eclipsed 50,000 annual sales over the past 12 years: the Toyota HiLux in 2018 (51,709) and the Holden Commodore in 2008 (51,093).

While Ford put in an urgent call for an increase in Ranger production out of the Thailand factory earlier in the year – to cash-in on the unexpected sales boom for utes – the Toyota HiLux stalled after running out of stock during a changeover between old and new models mid-way through the year.

The Toyota HiLux recorded its worst sales month in memory in August 2020 – when just 1200 examples were delivered compared the monthly average of 4000 vehicles – after running out of the old model and waiting for stock of the facelifted version to arrive.

Toyota has since ramped up production and HiLux waiting times have been dramatically reduced.

Both the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger are starting 2021 with aggressive “2020 plate clearance runout deals”, with either sharp drive-away prices or free on-road costs.

The battle for top spot in 2021 has already begun.

Toyota HiLux versus Ford Ranger (all models, denotes winner*)

YearToyota HiLuxFord Ranger
201642,104* 36,934

Toyota HiLux versus Ford Ranger (4x4 models, denotes winner*)

YearToyota HiLuxFord Ranger
201936,325 37,004*
2018 38,580* 36,883
2017 35,297 36,932*
2016 31,076* 30,880

Toyota HiLux versus Ford Ranger (4x2 models, denotes winner*)

YearToyota HiLuxFord Ranger
201911,324* 3956
2018 13,125* 5261
2017 11,796*5796
2016 11,028* 6054

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.