When it comes to South African bakkie sales, it’s a well known fact that the Toyota Hilux enjoys a healthy lead over all of its rivals.
These figures, of course, are a combination of double cab, single cab and cab-and-a-half body configurations, and you might be surprised to learn that Toyota doesn’t lead in all three segments.
During the recent Ford Ranger Wildtrak X launch (read our review here), the carmaker gave us some insight into double cab sales in South Africa, and the Blue Oval is currently leading that race, according to the latest available year-to-date figures up to the end of August 2023.
During its presentation, Ford revealed that it sold 13,892 double cab Ranger models between January and August, which equates to a monthly average of 1,737 units per month.
The Toyota Hilux followed in second place with a total of 12,272, or 1,534 units a month, while Isuzu was a distant third with 6,125 D-Max sales (766 per month).
Next up were the GWM P-Series at 2,938 (367pm), Nissan Navara at 2,313 (289) and Volkswagen’s Amarok at 1,925 (240).
The Mahindra Scorpio Pik-Up, which is usually a strong seller overall, managed 1,458 YTD sales, or 182 per month, meaning its sales lead is largely due to single cabs.
But this all begs the question. If Ford South Africa were to improve its single cab and Super Cab market share, surely it could dominate overall?
That is easier said than done, however, as the new Ford Ranger is to an extent stymied, in the workhorse segment at least, by a more expensive-to-produce platform. Its cabin architecture, for instance, was designed to incorporate a large vertical touchscreen and digital instrument cluster, making it difficult to strip down to a ‘bare bones’ workhorse model.
Currently the cheapest Ford Ranger single cab model, a 2.0 SiT XL manual, retails at R494 400, whereas the least expensive Toyota Hilux is the 2.0 petrol single cab S, at R356 600, which doesn’t even come with air conditioning.
Ford would also have to compete with the previous-generation Isuzu D-Max, which starts at R357,300 and the Nissan Navara, kicking off at R369 800.
Granted, the entry point to the Ranger single cab is currently the generously appointed XL model, but even if a base variant was introduced (as is available on the double cab) it’s unlikely that Ford would manage to price it too far below R450 000.
But why didn’t Ford just carry over the previous generation Ranger as a budget alternative? We’ve heard rumours that Ford SA was interested in such a move, but it appears the Detroit head office did not approve as it wanted to prioritise production of the new-generation model at the Silverton plant.
This makes sense for the company’s international strategy, as Ford South Africa is currently a prolific exporter of the new Ranger. In the past three months the local division exported over 20,000 of its Gauteng-produced bakkies, equating to almost 6,800 units a month.
While Ford leads the double cab pack with its impressive new Ranger, Toyota is likely to stretch out its lead in the workhorse market, given news that the company is aiming to introduce a sub-Hilux one-tonne model by mid-decade - read more about that here.