Ford rubs pie in Toyota’s face after winning battle of the utes for first time in 32 years

2014 was a good one for the New Zealand automotive industry, with Motor Industry Association figures showing over 126,000 new vehicles registered. This beat the 30-year record of 123,247 units sold in 1984 and it was ahead of the 113,294 sold in 2013. And it was a particularly good year for Ford, which took New Zealand’s top selling ute title off the Toyota Hilux after a 32 year run. 

Ford sold a total of 6,345 Rangers, not far off the top selling car model, the Toyota Corolla, which sold 6,472 vehicles. The MIA’s provisional figures showed the Ranger outsold the Hilux in 2014 by approximately 560 units. And in addition to convincing a record number of Kiwis to buy one, it also convinced the critics to give it a host of awards

Toyota has long used the best-selling ute tag in its Hilux marketing. And while it’s hard to argue with the numbers, it is still claiming to be New Zealand’s top-selling 4×4 ute, with a post on Facebook saying that “everyone else is talking number twos”, a reference to the sales of 2WD utes. 

Not surprisingly, Ford and its agency JWT have released a print ad celebrating the sales victory and the awards. It ran nationwide on Saturday/Sunday in the Weekend Herald, Sunday Star Times, Dominion Post, Christchurch Press, Waikato Times and Otago Daily Times. And it references one of Toyota’s previous Hilux ads

Overall, more than 90,000 new passenger cars were sold in 2014, beating 2013’s 82,400 but not the 1973 record of 97,346. And Toyota maintained the top spot in terms of new passenger car sales in 2014 with 16,257 (Ford clocked in with 6,976). 

Sales of light commercial vehicles were a major driver of growth, with registrations in that category jumping about 20 percent to more than 36,000. The MIA says this growth reflected the buoyant rural economy, with high milk prices and good growing conditions (and some might suggest that it also reflects the seemingly large number of urbanites attempting to look a bit more rural). The MIA believes 2015 will struggle to reach the heights of last year, however. 

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