For almost 50 years, the Toyota Hilux has been a South African icon. Not only because it is a bakkie with a proven record, but because it has an almost indestructible reputation for being a die-hard vehicle.
Give it a challenge and the bakkie will rise to it. Place it a situation and it will overcome. And it’s been confirmed with great success for the last five decades. Owners swear by it, construction workers live by it, and farmers want nothing else after using the Hilux for daily tasks. Facts.
But, what is it about the Hilux that makes it so popular amongst our motoring public? Why is it the default choice for many? Here are three of the many reasons the Toyota Hilux is a continuous success in South Africa.
1 Overall market leader
Most of the South African public know that bakkies are very popular in our country, but what many may not know is that the Hilux has been the top-selling bakkie for the last number of years.
Not just the top-selling bakkie, but also the top-selling vehicle overall. Yes, it outsells more affordable sales rivals like the Volkswagen Polo Vivo and Toyota Corolla! But in 2017 the Hilux had real stiff competition from the Ford Ranger – the only real rival the Hilux ever had in terms of sales.
For much of the year these two bakkies have been trading shots to be SA’s best-selling vehicle for each passing month.
Though the Ranger topped five of the first eleven months of 2017 and even comprehensively outsold the Hilux at some points, it was the Japanese bakkie that led the overall sales charts at the end of November 2017 (Naamsa will release December 2017’s sales figures in January 2018).
The Hilux, according to Naamsa’s official figures, sold a massive 33 040 units between January and November 2017.
Some 2910 units clear of the Ranger’s 30 130 figure.
Even if the Ranger ends December 2017 as the top-selling bakkie, it will not surpass the Hilux as 2017’s bakkie king. And just for greater context, Toyota South Africa noted in October that one-in-five vehicles sold in SA is either a Hilux or a Fortuner – the SUV based on the Hilux.
2 Leisure over labour
Trends have been changing drastically the last decade or so, with consumers opting to purchase a bakkie for status and appeal.
Even with the Hilux – like many other bakkies – primarily being a workhorse, its purpose in the market place has changed and buyers are opting to acquire one not for the purpose of doing hard labour.
Instead, it’s now doing what sedans are doing: transporting families. Bakkies are multi-purpose vehicles that can do more than just carry a load and it comes with the adventure factor that a sedan or some SUVs can’t always compete with.
The Hilux imposed itself on the market as a vehicle that can double as a lifestyle bakkie, as well as a workhorse for any task.
It is this very reason why Toyota expanded the Hilux range earlier in 2017 to cater to a wider audience. An audience that is more inclined to town-living than outright labour of any sort. For the latter purpose Toyota still offers the Hilux in various workhorse guises, but the range as a whole caters to both poles of the market.
3 Family vehicle
As mentioned, the Hilux has long since shook off its persona as a one-dimensional vehicle. Instead it now caters to a variety of needs and demands, one of which is a family vehicle.
With a range of engines consisting of petrol and diesel motors, the Hilux is more than able to transport five adults inside its cabin, while in the loading bay a kid or three can make themselves comfortable – should this be necessary and provided you have a canopy, of course. Sure, rear legroom is not the most spacious, but at least it’ll be a few hours before cabin fever creeps in.
The Hilux also still makes use of conventional leaf suspension at the rear. Without a load hovering over this suspension, the rear can be a bit jittery and it is especially rear passengers that will feel the jolt. But that is part of the bakkie persona and what we as South Africans have come to expect from these vehicles.