According to a report from CarsGuide.com.au, a Kia pickup truck may not be on the manufacturer’s agenda, and certainly, Kia will not offer a sister product to the Hyundai Santa Cruz, which went to become the fastest-selling new truck in the USA in August 2021.
CarsGuide spoke to Kia Australia’s COO Damian Meredith who admitted that a Kia ute/pickup is “probably a long shot”, and that if Kia wanted to launch a pickup, it would have launched the product by now. Kia Australia had pitched for a pickup four years ago, given that the body style is Australia’s best-selling car accounting for 20 percent of overall sales. Kia had forecast it could sell 20,000 pickups a year in Australia.
What is stopping Kia from launching a pickup
However, it appears there are strong reasons holding Kia back from launching a pickup currently. The first is that unlike the Santa Cruz, which is based on the Tucson’s unibody platform, a Kia pickup targeting the Australian customer needs ruggedness and 4WD capability, as rivals include ladder-frame based Toyota Hilux and the die-hard Ford Ranger. Kia does not have access to a ladder-frame chassis, and the one ladder-frame product it sells (Mojave) is left-hand drive only and an old product.
Developing a right-hand drive compatible ladder-frame chassis would cost a lot of money, and with the transition to electric vehicles, and new manufacturers like Rivian and Tesla paving the way for electric pickups, Kia would rather develop an electric pickup, is what CarsGuide reports.
In the case of electrified platforms, carmakers are able to leverage battery technologies to make ‘skateboard’ platforms, which can accommodate various body styles, and the Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP electric platform comprises the chassis of the vehicle including the battery and motor with a scalable wheelbase. While this platform will accommodate electric crossovers (Hyundai Ioniq 5) to large SUVs (upcoming Kia EV9), a pickup was not announced on the E-GMP. Answering Autocar.co.uk, Kia’s design head Karim Habib, said he would welcome a pickup with “open arms”, stating that he believed even in the U.S., despite loyalty to existing brands, there are new opportunities opening up.
An electrified Kia pickup could become a reality in the second half of the decade, as battery technologies advance to more power-intensive solid-state technology with a higher range and smaller size, and EV charging stations grow. Hyundai expects to prepare for the production of solid-state batteries in 2027, and both Hyundai and Kia have also invested in Factorial Energy to fast-track advancements in this field.
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