An "all-new," yet familiar-looking, midsize pickup truck will be coming to China soon as the Kawei Auto K1 gets ready to debut at the Beijing Motor Show next week. The little pickup is from one of the many government-run auto companies in China, the Jiangsu Kawei Automotive Industry Group based in Danyang.
If the truck looks familiar to you, it's probably because this truck was spotted a few years ago during testing, bearing a strong resemblance to Ford's F-150 pickup. This truck is much smaller, of course, and has softened several of the previously shared design cues. No word on pricing yet as the company still needs to create a pathway for sales.
According to the preliminary specification sheet, the K1 will only be offered with a 4x2 drivetrain, two types of engines (one I-4 141-horse gas and one I-4 105-horse diesel), and in one 138-inch wheelbase (which is a few inches shorter than the new Colorado crew with the six-foot bed).
The company has been around since 1992 and has focused on building industrial light vehicles, buses and special vehicles. Whether a vehicle like this could ever make it overseas depends largely on the "chicken tax," which essentially prevents small imported pickup trucks from getting into the U.S. At various times, the tax has been threatened but its elimination never seems to happen.
Some have argued that killing the chicken tax would promote powertrain and emissions technology, but at the very least it would mean that there could be more less-expensive choices for buyers looking for a smaller, capable trucklet. Unless something is done about the tax, though, don't expect any new midsize or compact pickups to get too popular.