Holden tackles Toyota on mine sites
Holden tackles Toyota on mine sites

The launch of the new-generation Colorado, a growing requirement for five star-rated vehicles and a desire by mining companies to spread their risk, has created an opportunity for Holden to provide vehicles to the mining industry for the first time.

At the moment Toyota supplies about 95 per cent of all vehicles used by mining companies.

And it is a business that sees the HiLux regularly sitting on top of the sales ladder in both WA and Queensland - Australia's two most resources-rich States.

But natural disasters in Japan and Thailand last year created supply issues for Toyota and the company was unable to maintain sufficient supply of its light commercial truck to satisfy demand.

While the Japanese car maker is now back at full production, and has virtually eliminated its backlog of orders, the events of the past 12 months have caused some mining companies to consider spreading their risk to alleviate a similar issue in the future.

Last month, BHP revealed that in the future it would be adding only five-star-rated cars to its fleet - a move that is likely to be followed by other big mining companies.

It was also a move that forced Toyota to make running changes to its ageing HiLux range - which is one of the oldest utes on the market - ahead of schedule.

While Toyota has said it will have all 4x4 HiLux models up to a five-star rating by mid next year and its 4x2 fleet upgraded some 12 months later, it has opened the door for competitors such as Holden to make a move.

At the national launch of the Colorado in Brisbane earlier this week Holden director of sales, marketing and after sales John Elsworth told WestWheels that the company would use its new light commercial truck to move into the mining sector.

"In the past we have not had the right vehicle, necessary supply of parts or right service set-up for such a move," he said.

"But we now have a vehicle that we are very confident in and we have already started working on establishing partnerships with service centres in regions like Newman, Port Hedland, Karratha and Tom Price.

"Toyota has enjoyed a monopoly in this area for a long time. They established it by providing the right product and setting up a good infrastructure to service that product.

"We understand that we have a lot of work to do to ensure we can provide the service required but we have already established some very good partnerships and are confident we are well placed to give it a real go."

While the Colorado is still to be crash-tested - and nobody at Holden is prepared to speculate on the outcome - they are obviously confident it will score the maximum five stars when ANCAP does crash-test the car.

The West Australian

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