The Australian market has been a huge player when it comes to trucks and SUVs for many manufacturers around the world. The likes of Chevrolet, Toyota, and Ford have enjoyed considerable sales success in the land down under, and now, Kia and its sister company Hyundai have been eyeing the opportunity to expand their lineup in order to take the fight directly to these established brands. The announcement that Kia had been working on some sort of mid-size truck platform was about a year ago, and now, as confirmed by the Australian website motoring, the plan is still underway, with a large SUV similar to the Toyota Prado or Nissan Patrol also imminent.
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With the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and even the latest Kia Sorento solidifying both brand's position in the SUV segments, none of these vehicles have the towing capacity or off-road prowess similar to that of a Ford Ranger or Toyota Land Cruiser. These are large crossovers with pseudo-off-road intentions, after all, and are all based on a car-like monocoque platform. According to executives from Kia and Hyundai, the plan is still definitely underway, but the COVID-19 situation has certainly shuffled around schedules, and just because there's no news about it doesn't mean its dead.
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Both brands certainly have the potential engines to cater to this segment, with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, twin-turbo V6s, and V8s. Most especially the 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel eveloped for the Genesis GV80 SUV, which offers a considerable 274 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque; enough to challenge the four-cylinder turbodiesels of the Japanese contenders. This means that this will most likely be the engine of choice for the Kia/Hyundai pickup duo with SUV counterpart.
“If you did want to penetrate that particular segment, you’d have to have an offering closer to a ladder frame vehicle. Or if not, if it was alongside a large SUV, in that it was say built off a ute platform, they could achieve a similar result,” says Kia Australia’s product planning chief Roland Rivero.
Additionally, this Korean ute effort could see the brand's return to the commercial vehicle sector using the same platform. Together with Hyundai, Kia co-invested around $160 million into EV van-maker Arrival earlier this year and could leverage that partnership for new vehicles. “We wouldn’t close the door on it. As you know we have a partnership with Arrival. If we had to choose an LCV, the number one priority – as it would be for anyone else in Australia – would be leaning towards a ute – a dual-cab ute of some sort,” Rivero concluded.