• Michael Mottram believes the Triton's looks divides too much opinion
• South Africans have made the shift to small-capacity engines in bakkies
• Ranger and Hilux remain the market leaders
In June, Mitsubishi revealed a new, limited-edition Triton for the South African market. Called the Triton Xtreme, the bakkie is the new headliner for the local range and is equipped with several features to make it stand out.
For starters, it is kitted with accessories to the value of R100 000, but Mitsubishi is availing it to customers for a R40 000 premium over the previous top model. The Triton Xtreme now retails for R640 000.
That is impressive, given that it undercuts similar models by Toyota and Ford (Legend50 and WildTrak) by a considerable margin.
Wheels24 correspondent, Lance Branquinho, wrote an article on the Triton and why it fails to sell in such low numbers locally. Branquinho compared our market to Australia's, which is very similar to ours. He says that the Triton sells impeccably Down Under and even challenges the Hilux for market dominance. Branquinho believes that the Triton fails to sell well locally because of its smaller capacity engine.
Wheels24 reader, Michael Mottram, emailed with a response to Branquinho's article and gave another possible reason as to why the Triton fails to garner the same sales success as in Australia.
Why, do you think, is the Triton struggling to sell well in SA? Email us.
2020 Mitsubishi Triton (QuickPic)
Not a primary factor
Mottram writes: While I agree that South African's generally do have a bias towards engine capacity, I don't believe that it is the primary factor for the Triton being totally outsold. I think us South Africans are far more accepting of smaller capacity turbo engines in general now.
Colts, and in particular the Colt Club Cab, sold very well back in the day. As soon as they rebranded and moved onto the Triton, the numbers fell.
READ: Slow seller in SA, but a success Down Under - Unpacking the Triton's market dynamics against Hilux
I believe this came down to:
1. The looks. The first Triton was an ugly duckling (maybe more so than the previous-generation Mazda). And the latest one, while more appealing, is, in my opinion, definitely behind the Hilux, Ranger, new Mazda, and Isuzu in the looks department.
2. The name (identity) change. Changing a winning formula and the name is something that a company shouldn't do, especially in South Africa. This change was enough to turn heads to alternative, better-looking rivals: Ford and Toyota.
3. One also has to consider that women are purchasing bakkies, too, and the looks thereof, without a doubt, turn heads away from the ugly ducklings – hence the first Mazda bakkie, after their split from Ford, didn't sell (the same bakkie, but left in the dust). These, I believe, are the main reasons for South Africans turning a blind eye to the Triton.
The looks of the new Triton are no doubt better looking than the previous generation, but I don't think they are appealing to South Africans. The new one is too extreme and futuristic-looking for the South African market.
2020 Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme (QuickPic)
If engine capacity bias was the main factor, then there's no doubt that the Ford Ranger 3.2 would have outsold the Hilux by some margin (3.0 and now a 2.8). Furthermore, the V6 Amarok, V6 X-Class and V6 Hilux would've sold more numbers. I know that the V6 Hilux is a petrol (South Africa loves its diesels), but based on the premise of 'preference to bigger engines, it is supposed to sell well.
Yet, none of these big-engined bakkies sell in big numbers, so much so that Merc closed production. When Toyota dropped the famous 3.0-litre for a 2.8, sales didn't appear to take any knock whatsoever. Furthermore, the 3.2 Everest would've outsold the Fortuner - and it doesn't even close.
We also can't deny that Toyota has a proven reputation in SA. Our people love the brand and the aftersales-service you get is top class. And parts are easily accessible. Brand loyalty, I believe, is another factor as to why owners will stick to a Hilux rather than opt for a Triton.
2020 Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme (QuickPic)