Are they commercial vehicles, recreational vehicles or passenger cars? The frontier is becoming more and more blurry for this category of vehicles. But did you know they held different names depending on where they are sold? In the United Stated they are described as pick-ups and a categorised as ‘light trucks’ along with SUVs. Pick-ups have been extremely popular in the US for decades now, with the Ford F-Series being the overall best-seller in the country every single year since 1982 when it jumped into pole position for the first time. That’s 32 consecutive years on top! For now its highest annual sales were reached in 2004 when it peaked at 939,511 units.
In Australia these vehicles are called ‘utes’, short for utilities. Over the years, their status has changed drastically from mere workhorses to gradually become the true family car: work during the week and fun at the weekend. This status change has been accompanied by a significant increase in size of the most successful utes in the country, now mainly manufactured in the one tonne pick-up factory of the world: Thailand. Embodying the increasing success of utes in Australia, the Toyota Hilux has enjoyed an almost uninterrupted climb on the local sales charts and almost snapped up the year-to-date top spot overall in 2012 as I described in my article Australia: The rise and rise of the Toyota Hilux where you can find annual sales of the Hilux in Australia since its original launch there in 1971.
In South Africa, another country enamoured with this type of vehicles, pick-ups are called bakkies, from the Afrikaans bak ‘container’ and the diminutive suffix -ie. The Toyota Hilux here too has been a contender to the overall models sales charts pole position for the past 10 years, fighting it out with the VW Polo and Polo Vivo. The Ford Ranger has also stepped up its game with the last generation, ranking among the 5 most popular vehicles in the country for the past 5 consecutive months.
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