Seoul - Kia and Hyundai have become a force to be reckoned with on the global car market, but the Korean sister brands have been missing out on the one-tonne bakkie action. This segment is important in countries such as Thailand, Australia and South Africa.
For more than two years now Australian media have been fuelling rumours of a pair of one-tonne bakkie contenders from the two Korean carmakers, with some company insiders indicating that it was a likely prospect. Hyundai South Africa even told us, not too long ago, that it was keen on introducing such a model.
Kia Australia’s COO Damien Meredith recently told CarsGuide that he thought the project was a “long shot”. The publication says this is a step-back from the far more positive tone that it has heard in the past two years.
Meredith said he sent a very convincing business case to the brand’s Korean headquarters, with executives having apparently seemed keen on the idea, but now it appears that hope has been lost.
“We’ve done our homework, but it’s not up to us, it's up to Kia headquarters and they just haven’t given us an answer,” Meredith told CarsGuide. “I think if they had have done it and planned it, then it would have been here by now”.
At this stage there is no word on whether the Hyundai one-tonne bakkie is still happening or not. Hyundai has however launched a Ford Maverick-rivalling unibody pick-up called the Santa Cruz in North America, but for the moment it appears that this model will be built in left-hand drive configuration only.
If the Hilux-rivalling one-tonne bakkie ever happened, there would be no shortage of diesel engines to fit, with the H1’s 2.5-litre turbodiesel potentially serving as a base engine and the company’s familiar 2.2-litre turbodiesel featuring in more premium models. There’s also a V6 diesel in the stable, as fitted to the new Genesis GV80 SUV.
Originally it was thought that the Korean one-tonners would debut around 2022, sadly there are too many doubts about whether they will ever materialise.