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Australia: The rise and rise of the Toyota Hilux

* See Annual Toyota Hilux sales in Australia since 1971 by clicking on the title! *

If the Toyota Hilux continues on its euphoric run and steps into the year-to-date pole position when Australian sales figures for September are released in the next couple of days, it would be a first for a commercial vehicle there. While we eagerly await for the numbers, let’s look back at 40 years of almost uninterrupted sales progression for the Toyota Hilux in Australia. Launched in 1968 in Japan, the first ‘Hi-Lux’ reached Australian shores in 1971. Since then, 6 generations of Hilux have made it the workhorse of choice in Australia.

For its first year in 1971 the Hilux sold 1,144 units and had to wait until 1980 to get a 4×4 version, enabling it to pass the 10,000 annual units for the first time at 10,203. Two years later in 1982 the 4×4 variant already outsold the 4×2, and it would stay that way for 24 of the following 30 years, with the 4×4 hitting a record 72% of total Hilux sales in 2012.

1985 Toyota Hilux (overseas model shown)

The Hilux reached a peak of 18,818 units in 1985 before struggling for a few years. From 1991 onwards we have access to overall ranking information and one thing is certain: the Hilux has ranked within the year-end Top 10 best-selling models in Australia for the last 24 years! It starts at #8 and 2.6% in 1991, then peaks at #6 and 3.1% in 1993 and 1994, reaching a record 19,285 sales that year.

2001 Toyota Hilux

Toyota’s workhorse passed the 20,000 annual sales barrier for the first time in 1998 at 20,820 units, ranking #7 with 2.6% share that year. With the facelift of the 6th generation in 2001 and the arrival of the 7th gen in 2005, the Hilux beats its Australian annual volume record for 7 consecutive years from 2002 to 2008! It breaks into the year-end Top 5 in 2004 at #5 and 2.9% share, passes the 30,000 yearly units milestone in 2005 at 31,369 units, gets up to #4 in 2006 thanks 36,883 sales and a record 3.8% share…

2005 Toyota Hilux in Kalgoorlie, Australia June 2005

in 2007 it breaks all records: 42,009 units, 4% market share and a spot on the year-end podium for the first time at #3… It does it all over again in 2008 with 42,956 sales and 4.2% share, still #3. These are still to this day the Hilux’s volume and market share records in Australia as increased fragmentation has meant models sell less than before. 2008 is also the year the Hilux topped the Australian monthly ranking for the first time. It did so in April and October when it reached a record 4.9% share.

2010 Toyota Hilux Australian Border Security ad campaign (click on picture to enlarge)

Even though volumes have been slightly down for the last couple of years, the Hilux has kept climbing the ladder, culminating in 5 consecutive months in pole position in 2012, ranking #2 year-to-date after 8 months and only 573 units below the #1. The title of best-selling vehicle in Australia has never been so close…

2011 Toyota Hilux

So what’s behind this success? Even though Toyota estimates around 80% of Hilux sold in the country are bought for commercial use, it is also clear that along the years the Hilux’s cabin comfort has drastically improved. From a basic workhorse, it has evolved into a valid alternative to the traditional SUV for Australian families. Workhouse during the week, playground on the weekend – seems like the Australian consumers is slowly but surely getting to a place where the US and Canada have been for decades with the Ford F-Series pick-up truck dominating sales there.

The sales of Toyota Hilux in Australia for each year since 1971 are below.

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