Australia has been shifting tastes in their cars for some time now, with many positing that it is our "love for adventure" that is drawing us to large trucks. I would tend to argue that it may not necessarily be adventure, but rather knowing that we have the option to perform some adventure.
Even if we don't actually get time to go on said adventure.
Speaking with Carsguide.com.au this week, Toyota Australia's Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hanley outlined that there was a "big desire" to see the large Toyota Tundra land on Australian shores - provided the business case adds up.
Image courtesy of toyota.com/tundra
The latter part probably being the only hurdle to truly overcome, because launching a product with potentially a niche audience, and potentially a prohibitive sticker price, is something that shouldn't be done lightly. I would imagine it needing a softly-softly approach to properly gauge demand before loading up the ships with voluminous and empty vehicles that are notoriously expensive to transport.
As is broadly understood, and is backed up by sales numbers from VFACTs, buyers are gravitating to the kind of truck that can be loaded up with recreational gear and still have room for the kids in the back. It's become the new all-rounder that suits the needs of the family, and suits the need for the driver to feel huge.
As exhibited by the growth of the SUV market segment, there could be potential for added nuance in the truck market to grow. In what used to be flat SUV offerings, the market then started to accept wagons of varying size and utility. At the moment, the best-selling trucks in Australia differ in their variant, and not necessarily by utility - in which I mean size.
If you want a Ford Ranger, you choose the one that suits the budget. If you need something bigger, at least in Australia, there is little to choose from, especially since Ford's "F" range disappeared from our shores.
There are options for larger trucks in Australia, particularly the Ram 1500, but some competition in the segment could lead to a real growth opportunity, with other makes perhaps tossing their offering onto our roads. More competition is good for consumers, after all.
With the news from Carsguide to suggest that Toyota is looking to deepen their truck variety in Australia (business case pending), it would show some level of faith in the segment and that there is room to grow. While I am loathe to bury the lede of this story, the news must be taken with some caution, too, as Hanley continues, "As of right now, I’m not aware of any plans. But would I like to see it? Absolutely. Because the more we can share these products with other parts of the globe is a good thing."
The three top-selling models in Australia are, in order, Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, and Mitsubishi Triton, and I understand there is great demand for the top-end Hilux TRD and Ford Ranger Wildtrak models.
If Toyota were to gamble with the idea that introducing another model into the market, positioning it at the top of their line-up, and if the gamble were successful, it could drive other Makes to enter Australia with their own offerings.
As evidenced by the asking prices for Ford F150's, with recent and used models still priced around the $100,000 mark, it suggests that there is an appetite for the larger trucks, that have, for a while at least, been largely untapped.
With tastes having shifted, and the growth of the truck segment for consumers who aren't tradies or professionals - for better or worse - the news of Toyota potentially, possibly, maaaaybe thinking of expanding their truck range is not particularly surprising.
Because, when paired with the demands of professionals who actually need trucks, the wants of consumers could lead to a growing segment akin to that of the SUV. Of course, that likely comes to the chagrin of enthusiasts who have lamented the growth of these barges on the road.
And those who would be concerned about emissions could also have reservations about introducing more V8s to the Australian fleet.
I am not opposed to these vehicles being added to the roads, if only for it showing a recognition of market trends and that manufacturers recognise Australian tastes. If Toyota were to take the gamble, and have it pay off, it shows a willingness and faith in our consumers, and they would be rewarded for being one of the first movers.
But I fear that these heavy-duty beasts will be relegated to more menial tasks.
Image courtesy of toyota.com/tundra