China has gone ute crazy, with dual-cab sales now booming across the country, and expected to double in the next five years.
Chinese buyers took home a whopping 414,000 utes in 2020, an increase from 304,000 in 2015. Between January and September this year, another 402,000 found homes, putting the country on track to smash the half-million barrier by year's end, with 536,000 sales.
Australia - a famously ute-mad nation - has taken home less than half the amount of utes so far this year, with 187,470 vehicles sold, dominated, of course, by the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger. Last year, the total haul was 179,392 utes sold.
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And here's the thing: China is just warming up. With the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers tipping those sales to double within the next five years, with an expected annual ute sales total of 840,000 in 2025. And we're still not done, with the number expected to reach 1.67 million by 2030.
What's driving the growth? The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers says a relaxing of rules surrounding utes in congested areas has seen the vehicle type's popularity soar.
In 2000, local governments began banning utes in built-up urban areas to help with congestion and air pollution. But the national government began easing those rules – or demanding their local counterparts do – in 2016.
Why is that good news for Australia? Because Chinese-made vehicles are booming here, with MG now a regular in our top 10, and vehicles like the GWM Ute gaining traction in our market. And if Chinese car makers are doubling down on utes, then you can bet more of those products will make their way to our shores.
What's more, some Chinese utes are far further along the eco path than the top-sellers in this country, essentially future-proofing Australia's most popular vehicle segment.
There, EV utes are a thing of the now, not the future – like the LDV T90 (already confirmed for RHD production), and there's an EV version of the GWM Ute (or Cannon) coming that should deliver a 450km driving range between charges.
So strap in, because new utes are coming. It's only a matter of time.