Big Tows: Market filling up with RHD American trucks
IT'S no secret we Aussies like a big pickup, and it appears our appetite for them is ever-growing.
In recent months Ram Trucks - distributed by American Special Vehicles - has arrived offering the big-towing American brutes with full volume import approval, meaning they are fully compliant with Australian Design Rules after their right-hand-drive conversion by Walkinshaw Automotive Group.
Long established independent importer Performax International at Gympie is soon opening a new dealership at North Lakes in Brisbane's north. This will be another site where it sells and services its Performax right-hand-drive converted Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Toyota and Ram pickups.
Highlighting the popularity of such vehicles in Queensland, Melbourne-based Harrison F-Trucks opened a Maroochydore showroom 18 months ago to sell its Superduty Ford F-Trucks after RHD conversions under full volume Australian compliance regulations.
Sales manager at Harrison F-Trucks Maroochydore Stewart Angove said the heavy-duty pickup market was growing in part due to the increased demand for heavy towing.
"Caravans, boats, horse floats and car trailers are getting heavier, and the maximum towing weight for a car you can buy in Australia is 3.5-tonnes," he said. "We have inquiries from people with the likes of a Ford Ranger or Toyota LandCruiser who know they are towing over the vehicle limit illegally, and can't afford to have an accident."
Mr Angove said the F-350 model was his most popular - even though you need a light truck licence to drive one - as many people need its huge load lugging capacity. An F-350 single rear-wheel crew-cab SWB pickup has a 1.7-tonne payload and 6.2-tonne towing capacity for example.
Performax International, which has full volume compliance for the likes of the Ford F-250, F-350, GMC Sierra Denali and Chevrolet Silverado, said it was opening its Brisbane dealership as part of the company's overall growth.
"There's a need to give the brand and its vehicles more visibility, and the Brisbane dealership will be part of 16 Performax now has," said spokesman Chris Nixon.
"Typical customers are recreational users with an above average size of caravan or boat, or those in the rural sector, and there's some interest from mining too."
Mr Nixon said that while the imported and converted American pickups came at a premium price (many are around the $150,000 mark), they were comparable with some large SUVs from mainstream manufacturers, while luxury and standard equipment was on a similar level and the towing capacity far better.
Daniel Hunt, general manager at Cricks Nambour where Ram Trucks are sold, said his customer base would include cattle farmers and grey nomad retirees. "Many put their current 4WD vehicles under a lot of strain when towing, sometimes illegally, and people often can't buy the vans they want because their vehicle's towing capacity isn't enough," he said. "A Ram takes away any guesses. You've never driven anything so comfortable and you could probably tow your house across the street if you had to."
But even big towers aren't the only ones attracted to these road-hogging American brutes. "A business or tradie that's doing well and wants to treat themselves to something special make up a small part of the market too," Stewart Angove said. So don't be surprised if a big American casts its shadow over you in the city as well as towing mighty trailers on highways.