Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Australia is copying the automotive trends of the USA and it tells us what to expect from our future | Opinion

There are plenty of similarities between what you see on the road in Australia and the USA.

Australians have long had a fascination with American culture. Just take a look around you next time you’re on the street and count the number of New York Yankees hats, Chicago Bulls jerseys or Dallas Cowboys tops.

But you can see it on the road too, with more and more American influence creeping into the types of cars we are driving here. A recent trip to America’s mid-west highlighted just how similar the Australian market has become compared to the US.

Driving around Australia these days, the road is filled with utes as they have evolved from simply being vehicles for tradesmen and have become popular family cars. This is at the same time our former obsession with passenger cars has made way for our modern love of SUVs.  

Spending time in the US rammed home just how similar the automotive tastes in the two countries have become. The roads over there are filled with the same mix of utes (or pick-up trucks as they prefer to call them) and SUVs (or crossovers as the Americans say) that we see here.

In recent years we’ve also seen the arrival of some of America’s most famous and popular models down under. Models like the Ford Mustang, Ram 1500, Chevrolet Corvette and Chevrolet Silverado have all become popular new additions to our roads. 


While on the flipside, any visit to the US includes an inevitable citing of the Holden Monaro badged as a Pontiac GTO, and the Holden Commodore wearing a Chevrolet SS facade or the Caprice doing police duties. 

And the anecdotal evidence is backed up when you study the sales results from 2021.

Twenty years ago the Australian market was dominated by sedans like the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, as well as small cars like the Toyota Corolla. Nowadays the top of the sales chart is dominated by the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger utes.

Which is the same story in the USA, where the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado are the most popular models. But what’s interesting is behind these utes/pickups, the model mix is very similar. 

2021 sales in the USA

PositionMake Model
1.Ford F-150
2.Ram 1500
3.Chevrolet Silverado
4.Toyota RAV4
5.Honda CR-V
6.Toyota Camry
7.Nissan Rogue (X-Trail)
8.Jeep Grand Cherokee
9.Toyota Highlander (Kluger)
10.Honda Civic

2021 sales in Australia

PositionMake Model
1.Toyota HiLux
2.Ford Ranger
3.Toyota RAV4
4.Toyota Corolla
5.Hyundai i30
6.Isuzu D-Max
7.Mazda CX-5
8.Toyota Prado
9.Mitsubishi Triton
10.MG ZS

While the specific models are different, the types of cars are very similar. The US top 10 is made up of five SUVs, three utes, one passenger car and one small car, while the Australian list includes four SUVs, four utes and two small cars. 

Obviously there are some major differences too, it’s not like the two countries have identical tastes. For example, Americans have a much greater love and appreciation for the ‘minivan’ than Australians do for people movers.

So what does this all really mean? Well, it suggests we can make some predictions about where the future of the Australian market is headed based on the US experience.

One of the most notable differences is the larger volume of electric vehicles in the US. EVs like the Tesla Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf are a much more familiar sight in the States compared to here. 

Obviously the US is a larger, more mature market so there is greater charging infrastructure and therefore more incentive to make the switch. But we’ve already seen the trend starting in Australia with the increased number of EV models on our roads from a wider variety of brands.

Which is leading to the next area where US and Australian interest looks set to combine - electric utes. In the US the likes of the Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T have already hit the road and the GMC Hummer, Chevrolet Silverado EV and (potentially) the Tesla Cybertruck are all set to follow suit.

So, don’t be surprised if electric utes are a familiar sight on Australian roads by the end of the decade…