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Slow seller in SA, but a success Down Under - Unpacking the Triton's market dynamics against Hilux

2020-06-24 13:00

Lance Branquinho

Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme

2020 Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme. Image: QuickPic

• Mitsubishi sells, on average, 70 Tritons per month, versus 3000 in Australia

• Triton powered by a smaller engine than Hilux, yet generates similar power

• New Triton Xtreme added to the local range

Mitsubishi's bakkie business is small in South Africa. On an average month, the Japanese brand rarely delivers more than 70 Tritons to new local owners. 

Those volumes are a great deal less than is the case in Australia, by far the global bakkie market which is most similar to South Africa. Vast distances, testing gravel road conditions and extremely warm temperatures, force Australian and South African bakkie buyers to face the same ownership challenges. Yet there is a significant difference in the buying pattern when it comes to Triton.


Do you think that the Triton Xtreme can turn the bakkie's fortunes around in SA? Email us.

Mitsubishi Triton

2020 Mitsubishi Triton (QuickPic)

'An enormous difference'

Whereas Mitsubishi does only a fraction of Hilux volumes in South Africa, it often sells nearly to 90% of Toyota's core bakkie volume in Australia. That is an enormous difference. 

In Australia, Mitsubishi's Triton is the third most popular bakkie, and the difference between it and Ford's Ranger or Toyota's Hilux is marginal. Triton regularly sells about 3000 units a month in Australia. If those numbers were transposed to South Africa, it would be very close to Hilux's dominant sales position. 

READ: Why the Mitsubishi Triton deserves a second look from SA bakkie lovers

How is it possible that Triton could be so popular in Australia, yet continues to be largely ignored by local buyers? 

You would suspect an enormous pricing discrepancy could be the issue. In Australia, a comprehensively equipped Triton sells for less than its rival Hilux. In South Africa, the new Triton also undercuts its Hilux trim level rivals.

Even the new Triton Extreme, which features a long list of additional standard features, is notably cheaper than Toyota's flagship Hilux Legend 50 double-cab. But the price is not the issue.

Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme

2020 Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme (QuickPic)

The South African engine size obsession 

The Mitsubishi Triton has a 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine which boasts 133kW and 430Nm. Those numbers compare very favourably with a current Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD's 130kW and 420Nm. 

Triton also has a superior all-wheel-drive system, with its ability to run in high-range with a locked centre differential. If it makes more power, has better torque and a more capable all-wheel-drive system, why does Triton remain ignored in the shadow of Hilux? 

READ: Toyota's new SA-bound Hilux has a lot more power

The only possible explanation can be engine capacity bias. South Africans appear to have a prejudice regarding capacity. The Triton's 2.4-litre is less regarded than Hilux's 2.8-litre engine, despite the power and torque graphs indicating otherwise. 

For Mitsubishi, this engine capacity bias will become even worse next year, when the upgraded Hilux 2.8 GD arrives, with significantly more power, peaking at 150kW.

Toyota Hilux

2021 Toyota Hilux (Toyota Media)

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