In many way, Australia remains a distant outpost from much of the world and that’s often a good thing. But it can limit choice in our local market in some areas of commerce.
Hence, whilst we have a seemingly huge proliferation of automotive brands available here to choose from, we don’t actually see some of the more interesting models that I believe would work well here.
Why not? Well, it’s sometimes because we’re a right-hand drive country in a world dominated by left-hand drive markets and that can affect the viability of investment in a lower volume variant. At least, that’s the excuse often made by manufacturers in other parts of the world.
On occasion, it’s a matter of a maker mixing and matching powertrains to meet the needs of a market. Some do that far better than others. Others are far sighted enough to think about world markets at the time of model development.
Anyone who enjoys driving a Ford Mustang in Australia, for instance, has a guy called Alan Mulally to thank for that. Mullaly was the CEO of Ford for eight years and it was he who pushed the idea of a ‘world car’ within Ford so that the sixth-generation Mustang was developed from the ground up with right-hand drive availability. Amazingly, it hadn’t occurred to them to do this beforehand, but he got the job done.
In any case, which models do I believe would sell here if they were freely available at the right price?
A sales hit in the USA, this is a perfectly sized urban ute that would be an immediate success here if it was offered with the right, diesel, powertrain. It’s usefully smaller than the Ranger, being 280mm shorter and therefore easier to fit into car parks and garages. In fact, a diesel plug-in hybrid version of the 4×4 Maverick, with a 50km plus electric range would be a winner. Such a vehicle would complement the Ranger and give Ford a huge local advantage in the marketplace.
The latest Prius is a far cry from the boring old models of years gone by. This time the styling is fresh and contemporary. The trademark hybrid powertrain remains and for many people this represents a more practical solution than a full EV at this time. Moreover, the 2023 Prius is also available overseas as a plug-in hybrid as well.
Given that the car is a best-seller in the Japanese market, and therefore there’s no RHD availability excuse (Japan being a RHD market), why on earth isn’t it offered here? The plug-in version, specifically, would represent a very real alternative to the Tesla Model 3 for many people particularly considering Toyota quality and availability of aftersales service.
The Telluride is the Kia version of the Hyundai Palisade, and it’s got one huge advantage over its Hyundai cousin. It looks a 100 per cent better! In the USA, where both models are available, the Telluride is the better seller. It would be here too, if it was sold here. But it’s fallen into the ‘made in the USA’ trap like so many other models have in the past. Apparently, Americans can’t, with a few notable exceptions, design factories that are capable of producing RHD vehicles.
It’s surprising that the Koreans fell into this trap when companies such as BMW have avoided it; BMW has exported SUVs from the US to Australia for years. In my eyes, the Palisade is an awful looking, over-styled, brick of a thing, whereas the Telluride is a well proportioned example of a large SUV. Under the skin, both models are very competent, but looks are important!
Of course, it’s not that long ago that the Colorado was available here. But, with the closing of the Holden brand and the selling of the Thailand manufacturing plant where the Colorado was produced for Australia, it’s disappeared. And that’s a shame as the latest model that’s now available in the US goes head-to-head over there with the Ranger. It looks great, a massive improvement over the last model sold here. It’s apparently also highly competent as a work and towing ute.
So, why isn’t it here? That old RHD production chestnut again. Moreover, unlike the bigger and more expensive Silverado, there isn’t the margin in a truck of the size of the Colorado to allow for a LHD to RHD conversion process to take place here in Australia, more’s the pity.
The what, you ask? Dacia was originally a Romanian brand that made Renaults under licence in the days when Romania sat behind the Iron Curtain. Renault ended up acquiring the company in 1999 and Dacia has since been developed into a value-for-money nameplate across Europe and North Africa in particular.
The Duster is a highly utilitarian small SUV that has an excellent reputation for off-road capability as well as being massively cheaper to buy than any immediate competitor. It’s not made for showroom appeal. This car is a no-frills alternative to the over-specified, over-priced, urban SUVs that dominate the local landscape here. In Europe it’s a favourite with farmers, vets and as classless as an old Land Rover.
Ok, so what’s actually realistic as opposed to dreaming?
Unfortunately, the Maverick and the Colorado simply aren’t going to make it here, at least until Ford and GM embrace right-hand drive production on a wider scale. It’s a shame but there it is.
The Telluride may well come to Australia at some point, presumably as and when there’s production in Korea and therefore the capability to produce RHD versions.
Which leaves the Prius and the Duster as two models that could and should be here now. The Prius, in particular, as a RHD Japanese model already, is a no brainer. Please explain, Toyota?
The Duster, meanwhile, is also made in RHD form for markets such as the UK, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus etc. Renault in Australia urgently needs revitalizing before it becomes a purely commercial van sales company. The word on the street is that the Duster will be here in the not too distant future. Hooray!
What new cars would you like to see offered in Australia? Let us know your choice in the comments section below or on social media.