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A two door car with a huge boot: it’s goodbye to the ute.

News released on the 27th October comes as a bitter blow for those that like their two door cars with a huge boot; Holden has decided, along with Ford, that the humble yet much loved ute will cease to be from 2016. To blame are a number of factors but chief amongst them appears to be our free trade agreement with Thailand, where the majority of our traybacked vehicles are sourced from.

Coupe utilityThe “coupe utility” was born right here in Australia; the well worn story has it that Ford designer Lew Bandt developed the vehicle in response to a request to Ford Oz HQ, asking for a vehicle that could take the wife to church on Sunday and the pigs to market on a Monday. This was in 1934, well before any American based designs and ahead of Holden, which released its own ute in 1951, on the 48-215 chassis. The ute has been a staple part of the Aussie carscape ever since, in two and four form and in two or four wheel drive configuration. Both Ford and Holden tried the high rise look, to limited but cultish success, 1950-48-215 Holden-ute 001but it’s been a slow decline for the ute.

As one in five new vehicles sold in Australia are sourced from Thailand, with under one in ten vehicles delivered sourced from an Australian manufacturer, the numbers simply no longer stack up for Holden and Ford (Toyota and Mitsubishi never built a ute but Chrysler did) and with the mooted change to a front wheel drive large car for both, there’s no plans for a ute. As it stands, the Holden Commodore ute is down by a frightening 31 percent in year to date figures whilst the VF sedan and wagon are up by 15 percent with the irony being the ute is effectively based on the wagon design….Since the beginning of the year there’s been over 100, 000 Thailand sourced 4WD utes compared to 4100 Holden and 3500 Ford utes.

FG uteThe situation Australia faces can be said to be dire when it comes to local manufacturing; VF utethe Button car plan is seen as the root cause now for the decline of our car industry and with manufacturers outside of Australia utilising a zero percent tariff costbase in Thailand, there’s been no real protection for Ford and Holden. Come 2016 it will be a sad goodbye to our two door car with a huge boot, the ute.

16 comments

  1. Richard from Tasmania says:

    So much for free trade agreements.
    This phenomenon will also lead to the demise of people buying locally made cars to tow caravans and tandem trailers as front wheel drives just aren’t up to it.
    The Ford Taurus was a failure and now Holden want to repeat the experiment by importing large front wheel drive vehicles.

    November 7th, 2013 at 6:13 pm

  2. John Oh says:

    I know all our industries are under attack. What I want to know is WHY?
    Devious influence by overseas corporate bodies? Senior public servants on the take? You have to ask the question as its not doing Australia any good!

    November 8th, 2013 at 10:10 am

  3. Keith R. Dawson says:

    High Wages compared to other countries will/is making it unproductive to manufacture in Australia, Qantas and Geelong are just the first. There is nothing to be done except reduce wages and costs.

    November 13th, 2013 at 12:05 pm

  4. eliana cristi says:

    Before thinking of reducing minimum wage, the country has to think how to reduce the cost of living in Australia, which compared to the rest of the world is up in the clouds.

    November 13th, 2013 at 1:53 pm

  5. Tony says:

    John Oh; Sadly Australian wages, standard of living etc. lead the world, so we are just plain uncompetitive. The minimum wage in the USA for a bartender or waitperson is $2 per hour, and it is difficult to get a job even at that. Our minimum wages are among the world’s highest, and our production rates do not follow suit, so we will never be competitive when it comes to the car industry.

    November 10th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

  6. len says:

    You fail to say that the customers make up the bar person’s wage by leaving tips, not a custom in Australia, and that the tax system is different in the US.

    November 12th, 2013 at 10:51 am

  7. NevinEsk says:

    Tony there is a big difference. Would you work for $3 per hour and have to rely on generous business people for tips to scratch a living?

    November 12th, 2013 at 11:25 am

  8. Ben says:

    They, both Ford and Holden, killed the ute in the ’80s also.

    November 11th, 2013 at 7:40 am

  9. BillW says:

    I could never understand the Aussie obsession with utes. For farmers and tradesmen, maybe, but city-dwellers: why? For most of us they’re hopelessly impractical with limited seating and vulnerable load areas, just like SUVs with their high centre of gravity and small boots. Give me a station wagon or a decent sized hatchback any day.

    November 11th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

  10. NevinEsk says:

    While Australia has an un-level playing field our industries will suffer. Whoever did the trade deal with Thailand needs to see a shrink. The way industry here is going (due to low cost imports on the back of a high dollar), soon we will be buying our navy ships from overseas as well. Our industries have gone the way of the Dodo. Remember when we made white goods, radios, TV’s, a tailor in each town, Bonds singlets made in Australia, Aussie bacon, Bludstone boots, genuine Drizabone, Cooee .22 rifles and soon Aussie mad Holdens and Fords.

    November 12th, 2013 at 11:33 am

  11. Colt says:

    A lot of people buy utes for second vehicles for towing and going to the dump (house and garden renos) mum uses the family car, dad drives the ute; but it’s also been a popular choice for parents buying vehicles for their newly licenced P-platers. The problem is, they don’t want 6-8 cylinder muscle cars, they want 4 cylinder lower-powered utes for obvious reasons, including restricting passenger numbers! While Holden provided the restricted passenger numbers, it didn’t provide the lower power etc.
    I live in a rural area… my son’s best mate has a holden ute with, strangely, low-profile tyres… on some of our poor roads, he can’t travel more than 60-80kms, or he risks damage to his vehicle. A lot of boys out here get hiluxes simply to deal with the state of the roads.

    November 12th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

  12. Amber says:

    Sometimes the women drive the ute and the men drive the passenger car. I love my dual cab ute and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    November 25th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

  13. Steve says:

    You say Toyota and Mitsubishi didn’t make a ute?? Of course they did. I had an L200 Mitsubishi and the next door neighbour had a Toyota. The Aussie Holden and Ford utes were the staple workhorse as they could carry up to a Tonne of gear as opposed to the Datsuns (Nissan) , Toyota, Mitsubishi which had half the capacity. Nowadays, the price that the imports are selling for has killed the local industry. Its not just cars, its almost every locally manufactured product. Try find a genuine Aussie made TV, Washing machine, Pair of Jeans. etc etc

    November 13th, 2013 at 8:24 am

  14. DarylS says:

    The car based utes carry 600 to 750kg, while the “one tonner” utes carry at least 1000kg, mine is registered for 1400kg. The Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota etc utes are workhorses while the Folden/Halcon pair are two door sedans with a big open boot.

    November 21st, 2013 at 10:24 pm

  15. Greebo says:

    Toyota and Mitsubishi didn’t make a ute HERE, which is the point. Try reading the article before posting.

    November 23rd, 2013 at 10:27 am

  16. RichP says:

    They were not made here but Suzuki and Subaru also sold utes in Australia. Who can forget the Mighty Boy and the Brumby! 🙂

    November 15th, 2013 at 9:06 pm