There's been plenty of online chatter in the past 24 hours about the Kia Soul'ster concept getting very close to a green light for production.
The Soul'ster debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It's a small-footprint, front-wheel-drive, two-door garden truck derived from Kia's new 2010 Soul, a car-based compact four-door crossover powered by either a 1.6- or 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
We'll keep the oh-so-close-to-production speculation going while (ahem) respectfully pointing out that we first reported Kia has been considering the Soul'ster for production since January, when we had a sit-down interview with Peter Schreyer, Kia's senior executive vice president and chief design officer, and Tom Kearns, the Soul'ster's lead designer.
Schreyer told PickupTrucks.com that Kia would "be very happy if we could build it," depending on attendee and media feedback to the Soul'ster.
And according to Kearns, it wouldn’t take a huge investment if Kia decided to build the small pickup. The full front clip is the same as the Soul, just a little tougher. The wheelbase is identical.
On the legal front, Kia continues its efforts to secure the Soul'ster name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. "Soul'ster" was published for public opposition in mid-April. Perhaps as soon as the name has been federally approved by the USPTO, we'll receive word of its go-ahead to production. The first trucks could roll into showrooms in 2010.