Kia’s K2900 light truck left the brand’s line-up in 2013, but the company’s new Chief Operating Officer for Australia, Damien Meredith, is hopeful that a pickup will come - but it won’t be anytime soon.
“There is about a… ‘nil percent’ chance of anything in regard to that right now,” Mr Meredith said at a press event in Melbourne this week. “There isn’t a global LCV [a pickup specifically] planned anywhere.”
“The reality is, and this is just my opinion, I don’t think Hyundai or Kia will have a light commercial (pickup) in the global range until there’s a factory built in south-east Asia. That’s probably around three years away.”
The plant, likely to be placed in Thailand, would see Hyundai-Kia join the likes of Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan in producing a pickup in the kingdom.
Reports of a new Hyundai-led pickup project have been circulating for sometime, with former Hyundai Australia boss and now global vice president Edward Lee even telling press the company is “studying that one [a pickup] very hard”.
“[We are investigating] what kind of pickup truck we should produce, if we have to. Is it a big-size pickup truck like in the United States or a small kind of pickup truck?” he told industry paper Automotive News at the 2013 Seoul Motor Show.
In Australia, Hyundai marched into the top three automotive brands in March and currently commands 11.7 percent of the market - equal to Mazda and not far behind Toyota’s 17 percent share.
A new Hilux-rivalling pickup could bring Hyundai that much closer to taking Australia’s new-car sales crown, and already the Korean brand is expected to reach 100,000 annual sales for the first time this year.
A Kia pickup on the same platform could also push the smaller of the two partner brands beyond its 45,000 annual sales goal - perhaps even better.
Mr Meredith told press today that the sales gap between Hyundai and Kia in overseas markets is around 60 to 40 in Hyundai's favour, but in Australia it's closer to 75/25.
“In normal mathematics, if Hyundai was selling 100,000 cars in some other market, Kia would sell 60,000. So, we have got a fair bit of work to do.”
Some pressure on the home office for a pickup could be just the ticket.