The Hyundai Pickup Will Be Rough, Tough, and Ladder-Framed
And Kia might offer one tooby Sidd Dhimaan, on
Hyundai has decided to enter the pickup truck market to gain a bigger market share. Since sedans are heading towards extinction and the company has a fairly big portfolio of crossovers and SUVs, it made sense to enter this unknown territory. Although new players usually test the waters by playing it safe in terms of design philosophy and the kind of truck they’ll manufacture, Hyundai has decided to go full throttle.
The company’s Australian head has said that Hyundai will be launching a full range of commercial utes to take its share of the pie in the ever-growing segment, based on the Santa Cruz pickup concept Hyundai showcased at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Can the automaker taste success in this segment?
Hyundai’s Answer To The Toyota Hilux
Hyundai Australia’s CEO, John Kett, spoke to Which Car and confirmed that the South Koreans are working on a full range of one-ton ute-based commercial vehicles that would go on sale in Australia.
“What’s clear to us is that if we’re going to bring a ute out, it had better be a ute”. He further added that “we’ve got past the first hurdle of what it needs to look like, but it needs to be functional as well. That’s the important part. We’re going down that pathway and we’re working towards it. We just have to make sure that when it arrives, it’s a bloody ute.”
What this means is that unlike the smaller unibody concepts the company has showcased before, these utes will be based on a ladder-frame chassis and will be built to handle a lot more abuse.
Can We Expect Multiple Iterations Right From The Beginning?
The biggest problem here is the body type you offer to customers. We know there are all sorts of permutations and combinations, and it is not possible for a company to launch all the engine + bodywork + drive type combos at once. So, Kett said the following:
"We’re looking at a range. When you cut up the ute market, you split it up between 4x4 and 4x2, who owns 4x2 and what powertrain goes with that [internally] and then 4x4 crew cab versus cab/chassis and so on… we want to be smart about it and that’s what we’re going through at the moment. Andrew [Tuatahi, Hyundai product manager] is having a lot of sleepless nights over this because we’re going fast down that road, but we do need to be smart about it so that when people look at it, they say ‘yep, that’s it’."
It Will Be A Global Citizen
The biggest highlight here is that the truck will not be limited to the Australian market.
Does this mean it will reach our shores? You can put that thought on hold for now because Hyundai previously said that if the truck was to come to the States, then it would need to have a dedicated assembly plant here. Imported trucks attract a 25-percent tariff, which would make the truck an expensive affair and probably a dead-on-arrival product. But the product will surely reach here in the future because there is a growing market for small utes. The Ford Ranger made a comeback and although it has started slow, there is a consistent rise in sales every month. Fun fact: This 25 percent imposition is known as the Chicken Tax.
We know that the truck will definitely be sold in the Land Down Under, but it may not be manufactured there. The company has plans to build a plant in Indonesia since Southeast Asian countries have a huge market for commercial utes. Take the Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux, for instance. Importing the truck under the Free Trade Agreement to Australia will help keep the ute’s prices in check. The proposed new plant will cost more than $1 billion to build and will have an annual capacity of 250,000 vehicles once finished. The plant will also see electric cars being built here. Hyundai and Kia have invested $880 million in the plant and expect to export 53 percent of the vehicles built here to Australia and Southeast Asia. The remaining will be for the domestic market.
What’s The Market Situation Currently?
The Southeast Asian market has the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max, and the likes.
These are all established players and Hyundai will need a long time to go toe-to-toe against them. However, the market is also seeing a lot of new players trying their luck in this segment. So, I’m going to pit it against another newbie that is still finding its feet. Recently, MG launched the Extender pickup truck starting at around $18,000. The Extender will be offered with only one engine option – a 2.0-liter, turbocharged diesel mill that churns out 160 ponies and 277 pound-feet of twist. It is an affordable product that’s absolutely bang for the buck, looks great for the price it sells at, and the best part, comes with a rear-wheel-drive system that will lure the purists. For what it’s worth, the MG Extender is an all-rounder and excels at almost everything. The only unknown territory as of now is the long-term reliability as well as the ride and handling. But this is where Hyundai has the upper hand. Despite having no experience in this segment, the company does know how to create products with excellent fit and finesse, and is also known to offer fuss-free ownership to the customers. In the end, it will all boil down to how competitively Hyundai will be able to price its truck.
To keep the developmental costs in check, Hyundai will be building the truck with financial inputs from its sister-rival, Kia.
So, expect a Kia ute to follow soon after Hyundai has launched its own product. There is no word whatsoever on the specs, but there is a rumor about the production timeline. The truck may hit the assembly lines in 2021, so there’s still quite a bit of time left for it to arrive to the market. Do you think Hyundai will be able to make a mark in this highly competitive segment? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Read our full review on the 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept.
Source: Which Car