Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
October 30, 2013
2016 could mark the end of era. After 65 years serving the Australian marketplace, the Holden Ute could say good-bye.
News.com.au has learned that Holden could end production of the Ute after the current Commodore is replaced in 2016. The Ute has been a staple of Australian automotive marketplace since the first model was introduced back in 1951. But in the past few years, sales have precipitously dropped. This is due to an influx of midsize trucks being built and imported from Thailand. Thailand has much lower labor costs when compared to Australian labor costs. Also, Australia has a free-trade agreement with Thailand which means anything imported from the country has no tariff.
Sales of midsize trucks have been booming. Models like the Holden Colorado, Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, and Nissan Navera dominate Australia’s best-selling vehicle list. Meanwhile, the Holden Ute and Ford's Falcon Ute are way down on the list. The news gets grimmer when you compare sales of the Ute to the Commodore. Sales of the Commodore and its variants are up 15 percent year-to-date, while sales of the Ute have fallen 31 percent in the same timeframe.
A lot of the sales increase for midsize trucks can be directed at a boom in mining in the country, and by small businesses and buyers who need something a bit more practical.
"We've seen orders more than triple in the past five years. A lot of companies are now using crew cab utes to replace station wagons. But they're also popular with private buyers because they're part 4WD, part family car and part ute. They're more of a lifestyle vehicles these days," said Abe Tomas, managing director of Fleet and Financial Products at Macmillan Shakespeare.
There is also talk about what the future holds for Holden itself. The Australian Government is currently deciding whether inject more money into Holden so they can keep building vehicles in Australia. If the government decides not to, then GM might layoff about 1,700 blue collar workers and close up their Australian operations.
If the government does decide to inject more money into Holden, then the brand will adopt two new "global" cars, one which is speculated to be a front-wheel drive platform that will take the place of the Commodore.