Text: Danie Botha and GG van Rooyen
Photography: Jannie Herbst
The Amarok is, contrary to popular belief, not Volkswagen’s first dabble in the one-ton pick-up market. Well, kind of? not.
In 1989 Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles launched the Taro bakkie, which was manufactured in both Japan and Germany, and sold in European markets. But it wasn’t really a Volkswagen. Actually, it was a Toyota Hilux with VW badges on the grille, on the rear flap, and on the steering wheel.
The Taro was on sale until 1996, when the partnership between Toyota and VW Commercial Vehicles was discontinued, apparently due to the Taro not meeting sales expectations.
That’s ironic, really. Especially since the very Hilux the Taro was based on is now the Amarok’s biggest sales target. Indeed, in South Africa the Hilux has traditionally been the market leader on sales, and the one with the biggest target on its rear flap.
And if one looks at the numbers, it’s a daunting task to take on the Hilux. Since 1969, when the Toyota Stout bakkie became the Toyota Hilux bakkie, more than 14-million units have been sold worldwide. About 830 000 Hilux bakkies, both single and double cab, have been sold in South Africa alone. Indeed, the Hilux is an enigma – no matter what side of the fence you preside on.
The modern double cab bakkie has come a long way since the first, very rudimentary and infamously uncomfortable double cabs landed here, in the early 90s.
Recent Hilux sales figures tell an interesting story. In July this year, a total of 2654 Hilux bakkies were sold. Of those, 1213 units were double cabs. So 45,7% of the Hilux bakkies sold here in July were double cabs.
That’s a big chunk, especially when one considers that even the entry-level Hilux double cabs represent a sizeable investment.
Of course, there are other contenders in this segment, too. As South Africa’s second most popular double cab, the Isuzu KB has also raked in healthy sales over the past 20 odd years. Its reputation is solid – much like the Toyota’s.
Behind the Toyota and Isuzu follow the rest of the pack: Ford’s Ranger, which recently received a rejuvenated face but is showing its age under the skin. Nissan’s powerful Navara, which continues to sell in consistent, if not chart-topping numbers. And Mitsubishi’s love-hate Triton, which replaced the popular Colt, and has battled to live up to its predecessor’s sales performance.
This is the battleground.
*Want to know more? Get it in the November issue of Leisure Wheels. On sale from 13 October. Get your copy before it sells out!