This is getting pretty interesting…
If you know anything about the legacy of the Australian car market, you know utes are huge. The name “ute” is short for “utility vehicle.” They aren’t quite what Americans would call pickups since they’re a cross between a car and a truck, like the Chevy El Camino or Ford Ranchero. But with traditional utes now a thing of the past with the death of Holden and Ford Australia manufacturing, people Down Under who want something utilitarian are forced to go with pickup trucks like the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. What’s surprising is the increasing popularity of full-size American pickup trucks, vehicles the Aussies used to mock us for driving.
Learn what type of donuts cops don’t like here.
Sure, there are still people on the island nation who believe these “massive” American trucks are too large to be practical. But let’s be honest: they’re too cumbersome to be used on a daily basis in most urban centers in the U.S. That’s not the life a Ram, Ford, F-150, or Chevy Silverado were designed to accommodate. For Australians who need a vehicle which has the size and capabilities such pickups provide, the American machines are a prized possession.
About five years ago, Ram and Chevrolet both established factory-backed remanufacturing programs for the Australian market. Trucks would be shipped to the island and then a third party would convert them from left-hand to right-hand drive. This was an experiment and showed such trucks could be successful with Aussie consumers, both demonstrating strong year-over-year sales growth despite the cost of the conversion procedure.
While the Silverado 1500 is already sold in Australia, GM started selling the Silverado HD line Down Under in November of 2021. Aussies are amazed at the stated towing capacity which is about twice that of the smaller diesel trucks available in the country, putting some pretty amazing capabilities in their hands. Like the Silverado 1500, HD models are converted to right-hand drive in the former Holden Specialty Vehicles Victorian factory. With a starting price of $144,990 AUD (about $82,572 USD) the Silverado HD at least comes with some luxuries like heated leather seats.
Back in May of 2021 the current-gen Ram 1500 charged onto the Australian market. Made in the United States, then shipped to Australia where they’re converted to right-hand drive in a Stellantis factory. Of course, that conversion, the shipping, plus other government-imposed fees mean the Ram 1500 doesn’t come cheap, but Australians sadly are used to shelling out big bucks for their rides. For example, the Laramie trim starts at $114,950 AUD (about $82,587 USD).
For now, the Ram 1500 lineup is limited to the Express, Warlock, Laramie, and Limited. However, the TRX is coming at a future date, with many enthusiasts Down Under eagerly waiting.
With the relative success of the Ram 1500 in Australia, Stellantis started selling the 2500 and 3500 HD models Down Under starting in September of 2021. This just goes to show once Aussies or anyone else get a taste for what 1500s can do, they suddenly realize the usefulness of 2500s and 3500s. For now, only the Laramie and Limited are offered for the 2500/3500.
Not to be left out, word has it Ford Australia is hard at work to bring the F-150 to Australia. Most Americans probably aren’t aware it wouldn’t be the first time the Blue Oval has sold the full-size pickup Down Under. In fact, it’s only been gone from that market for about 15 years, although back then it wasn’t going up against its hometown rivals. It’s not clear when Ford would bring the F-150 back to Australia, but we’re guessing it will be sooner than later.
Among Americans, there’s great controversy in calling the Toyota Tundra an American truck. After all, Toyota is based in Japan, but the Tundra is only sold in North America. On top of that, the design, engineering, and manufacturing of the Tundra takes place solely in America. To Australians it is squarely an American vehicle, so with the Silverado, Ram, and F-150 all migrating Down Under, it only makes sense there are rumors Toyota is looking at doing the same thing. Since it is the most popular car brand in Australia, Toyota could be worried it’s going to be left out of the lucrative full-size truck market there, with the large profit margins and prestige included.
The fact Australians are taking to full-size American pickups in any sizable numbers is something truly amazing, marking a shift in market and cultural behaviors.