At a time when it seems Mercedes-Benz and Fiat are withdrawing from the pickup truck sector, Kia-Hyundai – the world’s fourth largest automotive manufacturer – is reportedly in the early development stage for its own one-tonne pickup to rival the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux.
Hyundai’s preview of a half-tonne pickup in 2017, the Santa Cruz, received an ‘overwhelming’ response from the public, and officials have said that developing a pickup truck has been a main priority for some time.
The time couldn’t be more right for Kia-Hyundai. Global pickup trucks sales have been growing steadily over the past 10 years,
The two newest comers to the market, however, performed poorly with neither breaking into the Top 5 for sales, and it looks like they are both planning to cancel production of their models.
However, they failed for two completely different reasons. Fiat Fullback’s demise can be attributed to the small margins involved and Fiat’s poor brand perception, which is vital for pickup truck buyers. The Mercedes-Benz X-Class’s fate was largely sealed by its hefty price tag of up to £39,500 plus VAT and the fall-out with alliance partners Renault-Nissan.
But ultimately, they failed because they were shared products (i.e. based on a rival company’s vehicle) and, while this may work in other automotive sectors, its harder to pull the wool over pickup truck buyers’ eyes as they tend to be more knowledgeable and aware of partnerships.
It’s unlikely the South Korean manufacturer will suffer from the same problems. Kia-Hyundai has the economies of scale behind them and therefore will be developing this product in-house, build them at their own factory and it will be based on an ‘all-new’ chassis.
“Work has begun,” explained Kia Australia’s Chief Operating Officer, Damien Meredith. “We’re talking about a dual-cab, a single-cab – what we’ve requested is the full gambit for the ute [pickup truck], and that includes a dual-cab with diesel and petrol.”
Kia is confident the new one-tonne pickup truck, which is due in 2022 or 2022, will be a hit with the punters with Meredith remarking that it will be a “great product, great pricing and a seven-year warranty – it’s a pretty powerful package.”