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Australia goes big: Full-size trucks like the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado continue to pick up pace, but will the Toyota Tundra and Ford F-150 ruin the party?

While the 1500 and Silverado get more popular, more big utes ready their launches.

They may not be as prolific in the inner city, but head to somewhere like New South Wales’ Central West region or Far North Queensland and you’ll get it - big utes have officially arrived.

In the last couple of years, two brands - and effectively two models - have dominated the full-size ute or truck market segment: the Ram 1500 and the Chevrolet Silverado.

In 2021, Ram sold 3819 units of the 1500 and Chevrolet sold 2114 Silverados - and that’s not even including the bigged Silverado HD. In 2022, it was 5481 and 1823. Now, both brands seem set to eclipse their previous efforts by some margin. 

By this time in 2022 (at an end-of-July report), Ram was sitting on 2889 sales, comprising 2580 Ram 1500s and the rest its larger Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy and super duty trucks. Even Chevrolet’s 1032 being a third of its rival was, at the time, respectable.

This year, Chevrolet is a few (hundred) wealthy miners away from breaking its previous years’ sales ceilings with 1785 utes already sold, while Ram’s sold 3797 of its ‘small’ 1500, an impressive 509 units of the 2500, and even 46 massive 3500s.

Behind the success of these trucks is actually, to some extent, one company - Walkinshaw.

The company - that in its current form was essentially born from the ashes of HSV - was a relatively boutique operation as recently as a decade ago and was until recently at capacity with around 3000 conversions of Holden Commodores per year.

Now, on top of other dual-cab ute programs like the W-series Volkswagen Amarok, Walkinshaw is responsible for most of the American trucks getting around.

“Now we’re at 1500 employees and we’re doing 12,000 units this year, and we see that growing significantly over the next few years as more programs come online,” Director Ryan Walkinshaw told CarsGuide late last year.

But a couple of new contenders will join the segment soon, one of which poses a proper threat as one of the most popular models in history - the Ford F-150.

Already available to order in Australia and with deliveries starting very soon, the Ford F-150 is converted to RHD for Australia by RMA Automotive under Ford’s supervision, making us the first right-hand-drive country in the world to develop the F-150 for its own market.

A lack of a V8 engine for the Ford might turn some buyers off, but it’s unlikely many will be upset with the prospect of a twin-turbo 3.5-litre petrol V6 that makes 298kW and 678Nm - more than the Ram 1500 on both figures.

Toyota too will join the fray and hopes to find some new customers with the local introduction of the full-sized Tundra.

The Tundra will arrive with a hybrid-assisted 3.5-litre twin-turbo petrol V6, which in US-spec makes 286kW/650Nm. Of course, there’s still some time before the three American brands need to worry about the Tundra snatching sales from their trucks. 

Toyota is running a pilot program with 300 initial customers who have taken delivery of a Tundra and are reporting back to Toyota Australia with feedback on the big utes, which will be converted to right-hook for Australia by Walkinshaw.

By the time it launches around or after late 2024, it will be clearer if the Tundra eats up sales from the likes of Ram, Ford and Chevrolet, or from customers of its other traditional models like the LandCruiser.