Hyundai Says No, But Kia Could Say Yes

KIA Mojave

Don't expect Hyundai to step into the pickup truck segment anytime soon, as company President and CEO John Krafcik is not interested in repeating the same mistakes other automotive manufactuers have made.

"Our brand resonates best with families, but that's where we have the lowest market penetration. There's tremendous upside for us in crossovers. ... More seven-passenger crossover capacity is No. 1 on our priority list for the U.S," he said.

Phelan suggests this will likely mean Hyundai won't jump into the van (minivan or other) or pickup truck segment, and that makes sense. Hyundai has done a pretty good job lately of creating some buzz for its mainstream Genesis, Elantra, Sonata and eye-catching Veloster.

"When we looked at other companies in their growth phase, this (over-expansion) was where the train came off the track," and pressure to boost production led to quality snafus, Krafcik said. Our guess he's talking specfically about Toyota's multibillion-dollar endeavor in San Antonio.

Kia Sorrento pickup

Still, with a seven-passenger, rear-wheel-drive crossover in the works, a good amount of money already dedicated to rear-drive platforms and some new hybrid powertrain technologies, it would not be a stretch for Hyundai's "downmarket" player, Kia, to make a play in the pickup truck segment. The Kia Mojove concept was floated around about 10 years ago, and that was when the company wasn't doing nearly as well or had access to nearly as many resources.

Maybe Hyundai isn't ready to step into the realm of a small- or medium-sized pickup truck, but Kia certainly could, and it could likely have some interesting design and technology options at its disposal. In 2004, Kia played with the idea of a half-ton competitor for the U.S., called the KCV-4 Mojave, but the project was officially killed in 2008 because of unstable gas prices and shrinking interest in a small pickup. At that time, the vehicle was to be based off the new Kia Sorento (concept design by Stanley Ivan pictured).

Whether or not something new could be based off another larger or smaller SUV or crossover remains to be seen. (Remember the Soulster?) Regardless, it almost certainly would require a new assembly plant or some serious modifications to an existing facility. For now, it looks like we'll have to wait and see, but they do have options.

KIA Soulster

Kia Soul trucklet

Comments

I could see Ford saying YES to this.

I know this story is going to get shreaded in here. Nobody wants to talk about FWD unibody trucklets in here right?

I just see a huge opportunity for a sporty trucklet UTE with a big 2 door cab with lots of rear leg room. rear seats that fold flat and recline back. A midgate that folds into the cab and crazy bed storage deep under the bed (ala ridgeline) and on the rails (ala Rambox). Something like the Fiat Strada, but without the spare tire and with a fold in midate.

The had a lot of that with the Honda Ridgeline.. and it never met its sales goals. There is not a sizeable (profitable) market for that kind of vehicle.

Typo.. Fold-in Midgate to extend a hard plastic bed space into the cab via the midgate and out the back over the tailgate for a bed space exactly 4x8.

I imagine something very creative and distinctive with the back seats. Maybe they would fold flat for bed cargo, recline back for very tall passengers or long road trips and even flip to face back for tailgating and other outdoor and sports activity.

I mean.. how cool would an option to open up the midgate and flip rear seats to face back be???

This would not be a work truck and won't be able to tow much.. but with the right powertrain and configuration could do 30city/40hw and STILL haul 20 sheets of plywood or 40 bags of manuer when you need to.

@cyberpine - the auto mfgr's are having a hard enough time getting 30city/40hwy in an affordable yet gutless b-series compact car. Don't hold your breath for those same specs and the capability you are asking for. The Ridgeline does nearly everything you are asking for in a fwd platform but only gets 20?mpg and doesn't sell... In fact, most full sizes outperform the Ridgeline in every dimension and category including fuel economy...

I'm all for smaller trucks but there comes a point where there is so little utility, it's pointless.

I don't see anything in those pics that has any more utility than the small cars. Less in fact.

I'm not surprised by hyundai's announcement but I'm disappointed. They have a great cargo van in Mexico and other countries. They're kicking @ss and taking names in so many other segments and building cars here in the US. I'd love for them to innovate for a change, rather than copy, and release a SMALL full size crew cab with 7-8' bed and 2 liter turbo diesel. I would be first at the hyundai dealership to buy one.

But it seems all they know how to do is copy others so I won't be expecting this any time soon.

Can I laugh now or later? HAHAHA

Man these "trucks" are feminine. I wouldn't be caught dead driving one of these.

There's a need for it and current pickup manufacturers could use a kick in the pants.

@cyberpine

Your description sounds a lot like the Toyota ABAT concept, which may be the basis for a Prius/Scion pickup in a year or two. I currently own and a full size GMC Sierra Z71. It's been an excellent truck which has served me well, towing trailers, off roading for hunting and fishing, etc. BUT, I would love to be able to tool around in a smaller economical truck most of the time.
I too see a need for that type of vehicle.

Russ

It is a definite YES for me!

The only one I could see working would be the black one in the last picture.They might have more success building something like the old Bronco's and Blazers where the top came off, but in this case make the top easy to remove. A trucklet but more like a Jeep with a hard top/soft top combination, with folding rear seats. Those seats could have the option of being removed to yield a "Ridgeline like" locking trunk. I think that aiming at the current midsize market would be a failure. Some sort of midgate might work, but I've talked to a few Avalanche owners and they rarely used it. The second row seats could be rigged to fold into a midgate like structure. You need to "go small" to succeed.

@Lou - I dunno, alot of this has been done before. Think geo tracker or the Samurai and it's replacement. They had "beds" but they just don't work out for any kind of real work, even light work. They look ok, but you can't even haul lawn equipment in them.

Who has ever said "Man, this Ranger is just too big for the job, I wish I had something a little smaller and more compact" ???

I say no

The Ridgeline is still a pretty heavy pickup truck. I think this article is talking about much different type of Car. Basically a compact with an exposed cargo area. 2000lb vs 4000lb, unibody vs Body on Frame. no real towing vs towing. My point is take something like the new Fiat Strada or VW Saviero and give it a midgate and underbed and wheel well storage.

What Hyundai would like to sell in the US is this
http://www.privatefleet.com.au/images/upload/Image/ILOAD.jpg

They are loved by tradesmen here very slightly bigger than a Chrysler Voyager with a 2,500lb payload. They are outselling the Toyota Hi Ace by a considerable margin. Koreans do not do pickups, which explains their abscence in the Hyunda/Kia and Daewoo lineups. Only Ssanyong has a very small selling pickup in Korea.

If I were to buy a small compact truck, I would go for the Fiat Sentiero concept featured here on Aug 9, 2009.

This could get very interesting if Kia were to enter the North American market with any of the trucks shown above. If they are not too big and they are competitively priced with a good warranty they would sell.

I wouldn't get too excited. These things would be so small as to be completely useless for doing much of anything. The Ridgeline could have (and still could be) been successful if Honda had bothered to update the damn thing after it came out. I think if Kia were to buy the specs to the Ridgeline from Honda, and just update the interior and powertrain, with little else, that it would sell damn well.

Remember the Ridgeline's 15/20 numbers are from a 2006 truck that has never been updated. Incorporating a few changes into it could probably bump it up by 2-3 mpg. I think that a Ridgeline-like truck, with a Kia/Hyundai interior, that put up legitimate 17/18 - 22/23 numbers would sell like gangbusters.

if kia would make pickup it should make a compact that gets 28 mpg. some like the Chevy Montana. it get small pick market back to roots of car like trucks.

Make it a diesel, 30+ MPG real world, 4X4, four door, 5,000+ towing and it will sell.

Given the expected gas prices, they would sell a bunch if they came out with them NOW!

Chalk me up for one! I think with clever marketing and a well designed and flexible trucklet could be profitable. Please build us one to prove it could be done -- after all, we don't all need or want a big truck.

@ Robert Ryan

That was the van I was talking about.

They're already in North America- Mexico that is, but not the US and Canada. It might be because they don't have a suitable non diesel to put in it because of course we're not allowed to have diesels here.

i wunder if you culd 5th whele tow a small triailor with won of thease litle trucks? i wuld considre one becaus they probley get much beter milage then a full size wuld. anxious to here more info on them.

Not one much for the Soulster, heck I don't really even like the Soul. I wasn't going for the Mojave either, but it has some pretty neat features on it. The problem with that midgate though, would be leaving it open during transportation or using it with a camper shell. Still liking the Fiat Strada, glad Chevy is bringing the new Colorado here, and I wish Dodge would take another look at the M80.

I hate the fact that Kia is making such edgy and attractive vehicles! I don't want to buy a Korean vehicle (nothing against Korean people) but with the ranger and dakota gone (and never very impressive anyway), and the Amarok, Hilux, and "Global" Ranger not being offered here, a light small efficient 4 door much like the second one shown would be great. I know there are a lot of less endowed people who won't drive anything but a full size truck, but some of us don't need a full size truck taking up our space and money. As long as it is not like the Subaru Baja and more like the Hilux, it'll be a hit.

sorry.. I can't seem to let this article go.. :)

Every time i see a new Camaro on the street with thos stock black rims.. i think the same damn thing. What a very sexy looking, pretty powerful v6 muscle car - but worthless rear seating just like the mustang.

If I where Chevy, I'd deliver a variant on the carmaro.

* Raise the rear profile to look more like a Mustang cobra. * Have the rear window completely roll into the roof
* give it a truck like tailgate
* have the cargo area fold flat into a hard bed
* place rear seat way back, way low for and give them the ability to recline way back and gold flat for industry break rear head and leg room.

Google: "Open Cargo Coupe"

Pickups are commonly used by tradespeople all over the world, they are popular as personal transport in Australia, the United States, and Canada, where they share some of the image of the SUV and are commonly criticised on similar grounds.

@ Volkswagen Servicing Conventry - I don't just my truck for personal transport. We had a BBQ the other day and I used my truck to bring back half a dozen cases of beer, for others:)

The previous generation Sorento chassis with the Kia 2.2 Diesel would work and give over 30mpg. This newish diesel was designed in Germany and it has some balls. Nearly 140kw and over 420nm of torque. In the new Sorento that comes in at about 2 tons its using 6.9litres per 100km or over 35mpg.

I personally think that GM, Ford, Toyota and Chrysler need a competitor in the big pick up truck market. Make it handle a 4x8 sheet of plywood with the tailgate up or extended, tow over 7500lbs or more, 4x4, off-road suspension. Compete with the likes of the Raptor and Ram, but with a much better warranty and build quality. Make it seat 6 with the option of adding 2 more seats with a hard top cab on the back and it would be used by large families, farms, construction crews, etc...especially if it can compete on all levels for a better price. Yes, mileage is important, but the competition has little to offer in mileage for this segment, and it's a required segment. Get rid of these vehicles and say goodbye to construction being affordable. That million dollar house just became 5 million buddy...that low income home is now middle class...

40 mpg small pickup is very possible with today's engines. I have a 93 Toyota Hilux that can routinely get 37 mpg and an 83 Dodge Rampage that can get 34 mpg.

I have a Ridgeline and I love it. Smaller for around city, unibody for a great ride, great rear seating and the mileage beat anything until the cylinder cancellation in GM and Ford came around. What I would love?? Slightly smaller and a better powertrain. Honda has done nothing significant with the Ridgeline since 2006. Bring in a smaller V6 diesel with a good 6 speed transmission, All wheel drive and a bed that can handle a 4X8 sheet (tailgate up or down. Who cares as long as it gets around??). Winning combo for me. We have to get over the crappy Diesels from the 1980`s and move towards a fuel that outperforms gas/ hybrids and offers a realistic environmental improvement.

I think Hyundai is way off base with not building a small pickup truck. I personally love a small pickup for around town driving and small hauling. Look at the first T100 by Toyota (1993 to1998) had a 2.7liter 4 cylinder with an 8 foot bed. A very useful and very dependable small truck. They are still in demand by those who know the high reliability of these trucks and still command high resale. However stay away from the 3.0 liter as it had problems with the head gaskets and Toyota had a recall on them, but the other V6 the 4.0 is bullet proof like the 2.7 version. So if Hyundai put it's quality in just one small pick up to take up the place of the Ranger by Ford which was discontinued in 2011, I would order one in a heart beat. I have experienced a new Azera in 2007 and it was very well built and had features far beyond what was out there in that price range. I hope Kia doesbuild a small pickup truck. I myself would like to see more completion in that range of trucks..

If Kia would ever build a midsize truck I for one would buy one. Kia make a great vehicle so why not try a small truck.

I think it would be great a truck made by Kia. I've had both Kia and Hyundai Both good cars but the Kia is better. If they made a truck I would by one. I was a ford man for years but a Kia man now. I think a truck with turbo would work for me. I hope they make a truck.

I wish Kia would make a truck. I don't mean a BIG one, either. Not everyone wants something HUGE.

I own a Kia now. I want something that sits slightly higher, so easier to get into. Kia makes one hell of a car as it is. Their trucks would be amazing. Kia would kick ass, with trucks.

They'd be affordable for sure.

Hopefully, they would NOT come with things a buyer didn't want. I want something, that DOES NOT come with every new tech gizmo.

Kia could be using the frame of its overseas cabover K2500 truck. I saw many of those fitted with wrecker flatbeds in Brazil.



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