Certain countries seem to have unique favourites when it comes to their most popular car.
The US loves its SUVs and pick-up trucks, for instance. But for Australians, it seems to have always been the ute. So much so that the ute has become somewhat of a symbol of the average Australian driver.
Almost 200,000 utes were sold in 2021, making it the most popular car in Australia, even beating the SUV by several thousand sales.
But what is it about this car that has got the Aussies swooning? This article is taking a closer look at the advantages of the ute and will hopefully clear things up a bit.
The History of the Ute in Australia
Utes have a special place in the hearts of the people from down-under, and it might have something to do with how this car came about.
Rumour has it that a farming couple once wrote a letter to Ford, requesting to come up with a car that would enable them to carry their livestock, such as sheep and pigs, to the farmer’s market while also being able to go to church in it on a Sunday.
And so, the ute was born in the 1930s. While the Aussies thought, “You B-ute!”, Americans weren’t that convinced and came up with a pick-up truck.
The difference is that utes are basically still cars. They are based on acar chassis but with the rear roof cut off, while pick-ups consist of two different vehicle parts completely (a bed for loading and a cab for passengers).
The main advantage of the ute is that a farmer’s wife can still drive to church on a Sunday with it, as it is easy to handle because of its car-like features and is also easier to park than a hefty pick-up truck. But, it also takes you to the outback without causing any major issues. So it’s a clear win-win.
Another reason as to why the ute became so popular in Australia is the price.
Holden produces utes locally, and the Ford Falcon was also produced in Australia, meaning import taxes weren’t an issue, making this car very affordable for people living in Oz.
As the name already suggests, utes are classic utility vehicles. They are not there to be particularly good-looking or fancy; they exist to be used.
In the case of the Australians, utes were mainly bought by tradies as well as farmers. Due to their accommodating design and their ability to carry quite a load of equipment, animals, or people on their backs, they are the perfect vehicle when it comes to needing practicality.
What has happened in recent years, however, is that urban-dwellers and yuppies have even started to get a liking of this car. It seems to be the image that a ute brings. Australians understand themselves as living in a robust country with a lot of rough edges; clearly, the ute is fulfilling this image by being adaptable to any of these conditions.
Whether you need it in the outback or an urban area, the ute is incredibly versatile and can even carry vans for those weekend road trips into nature, and therefore Aussies seem to love this car.
Room for more
The ute still has a lot of possibility for improvements and has become better and better in recent years.
Now, more manufacturers have obviously discovered the hype around this make in Australia and have started to sell their utes there, turning the Australian market into a competitive one, where one is definitely spoiled by choice.
It is fair to say that the ute has grown out of its weird-looking adolescent phase and has now paved the way for very robust designs with a slick exterior look.
Among some of the most popular models currently is the Nissan Navara. Its improved fuel efficiency definitely convinces most ute-fanatics.
Australian drivers sometimes need to go through rough terrain, drive long distances in the outback, carry their livestock or farmworkers around, and still manage to get to church on a Sunday or visit some friends in the big city.
The ute just seems to meet all of those needs in one and has therefore become the perfect partner for the road to most Australians.
Chances are, we haven’t seen all of it just yet. Utes are improving rapidly and will therefore potentially only become even more popular down-under, and who knows, maybe even take over other markets, one gear at a time.