According to CarAdvice, Australian Kia subsidiary is confident its Korean parent, Kia Motors Corp (KMC), has commenced development of a pickup rival of the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, and expects a market launch in 2022/23.
The long-awaited Kia pickup — which will probably be based on a platform shared with Hyundai — would be the final piece in the puzzle for the brand as it seeks to fill gaps in its product range.
Kia’s local arm has been crying out for a pickup for years, as has Hyundai. These vehicles make up around 20 per cent of the market in Australia, meaning their absence costs both brands thousands of potential sales every year, most with high profit margins.
Given Kia continues (impressively) to grow sales in a dipping Australian car market — it’s now sitting in sixth place locally and closing in on fifth-placed Ford — such an injection of new customers would escalate the brand to new heights.
Right now the only Korean pickup out there to take on the established field from Japan, Europe and China is made by comparative minnow SsangYong, which is aggressively pushing said Musso to local buyers.
“The good news is there is a conversation [with KMC],” said Kia Australia chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, when asked for the umpteenth time by CarAdvice this week. “It’s still a way off, but we’re confident in the near future the group will have a light commercial range in Australia.”
Meredith has requested a “full range”, meaning single- and dual-cabs, diesel and petrol, and rear-wheel or four-wheel-drive. “The full gamut”, he said. An element of Australian-market suspension calibration and probably hot weather/dust testing will feature.
Meredith also said Kia would shoot for “eight to 10 per cent” market share, which based on last year’s 4×2 and 4×4 ute sales would be equivalent to around 20,000 sales. Given Kia sold just shy of 59,000 passenger cars and SUVs here last year, that would add one-third extra to its volumes.
Kia has previously sold a couple of work vehicles in Australia, most notably the bargain Pregio van between 2002 and 2006 — at times the second most popular van on sale after the Toyota HiAce. Kia Australia sold 12,247 of them in total.