Will the Mustang of pickup trucks come to Australia?
Which manufacturer will be the first to deliver a new pickup truck to Australia in right-hand drive?
THERE WAS a little disappointment from some of our readers yesterday when HSV announced the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 would cost north of $110,000 in Australia before even considering on-road costs. It seems there was a glimmer of hope that it could have been a circa-$100k pickup, arriving as one of the current-generation of ‘cool’ pickup trucks widely available in the US and sold at a reasonable price here. But even then, at say $103,990 plus on-roads, it’s still an expensive ute.
It is, however, entirely understandable because all pickup trucks on offer here have to be converted from left to right-hand drive, and that costs a lot of money. And unlike the current RAM 1500 on offer, the Silverado 1500 is the latest generation product full of newer technology.
We’ve had some mail come in at Practical Motoring recently asking about what the expected price on the ‘small’ Silverado was going to be, and if there’s any hope that a manufacturer like Nissan will offer the Titan here for under six figures, preferably around $80-90,000, which is the top-end for dual-cab utes. There’s fondness to own these things, but not for the masses at the current asking prices.
But we’ve been here before when everyone wanted American muscle cars that were more affordable than the time-consuming conversions. That was satisfied when the Mustang lobbed.
One of Ford’s masterstrokes when it quit local Aussie manufacturing and buckled down the hatches to survive a market without the top-selling Falcon was, firstly, to build a popular product in the Ranger, and secondly, to assemble the Mustang in right-hand drive from the factory. It then delivered the V8 model to Australians at a price with a five in front of it. Heck, you could get it with the commendable four-pot from $45,990. A V8 Mustang will now cost you $63,690 plus on-roads, though it is kitted with a lot more gear than in 2015.
Previously unheard of (at least for the last few decades), this budget American coupe and convertible duo became Australia’s best-selling sports car. Surely someone sniffs an opportunity for a best-selling pickup ute.
Of course, these large US utes will likely never garner the same sales volume as a dual-cab like the Toyota HiLux or Ford Ranger in Australia, but there’s clearly a market for useful vehicles that embody big bold lifestyles. Just look at the Ford Ranger Raptor or the Nissan Navara Warrior…that’s where we’re heading.
As a point of reference, the 2020 Mustang GT in the US retails for around US $45,000 in Australian spec, and the Silverado for around US $50,000. There’s clearly some synergies in Ford’s shortcut to market, but what manufacturer could be the first to do it with a pickup?
Ford is yet to reveal the next-gen F-150 but it could just be the first model to break into the market as a factory right-hand drive pickup truck. One roadblock in the way has been a suitable diesel engine for Australia, but as we reported last month, Ford is developing a new 3.0-litre powerstroke diesel turbo V6 for the new Ranger that could also make its way into the F-150.
Ford has previously said that it is evaluating potential markets but in no way has it confirmed RHD or Australia as a natural F Truck stomping ground.
It’s possible Toyota’s pickup, the Tundra, could be the first of the latest crop of pickups to come to Australia in right hook. The new model is expect to launch late next year and will ride on Toyota’s new TNGA-F platform, which is a derivative of the Toyota New Global Architecture underneath new models such as the Camry, Corolla and Yaris. What’s not clear is if this will facilitate simple switching of the steering wheel and components. It’s also tipped to land with a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 which will reportedly power the new LandCruiser in hybrid form, meaning it shouldn’t be much in the way of consideration for Australia.
HSV just announced pricing for the locally-converted Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and it is waiting on supply for new Silverado 2500 and 3500 machines. Unfortunately, when GM closed Holden this year it said that it is leaving all right-hand drive markets, thus the only option is conversion from the likes of Walkinshaw/HSV – likely set to become GMSV under new branding.
With this, we can also swipe away any idea that GMC would deliver its Canyon in RHD.
RAM has realised big success with its well-established local 1500 conversion performed by ASV in Clayton and has recently required even more staff to keep up with production. Plans are already underway for the next-generation ute for conversion and there’s no reason to think that the RAM 1500 would come off the boat in right-hand drive anytime soon. This is, however, the most affordable factory-backed conversion pickup currently on sale in Australia.
Nissan’s on-again/off-again Titan pickup truck has long been rumoured to come down under. However, after numerous conversations with the local arm we’re pretty sure that we won’t see a RHD Titan for a long time yet, not even a conversion.