South Korea is preparing to unleash more dual-cab utes on the Australian market, this time coming from car giants Kia and Hyundai.
Joining SsangYong’s Musso which is already on sale here, Kia Australia says that Hyundai Motor Group’s new ladder-frame dual-cab and single-cab utes are only a few years away from making their debut. The new platform is under development and Kia expects it will start local tuning for Aussie roads around 2021, according to its timeline.
Speaking with media in South Korea at the launch of the all-new Seltos, Kia Australia COO Damien Meredith could not hide his excitement for a ute in the brand’s line-up when asked how important the small SUV was.
“[Excitement for Seltos] is only second to a light commercial range!,” Merideth exclaimed.
“The good news is that there is conversation so it’s still very much a long way away, but we’re confident in the near future the group will have a light commercial range in Australia.
“Yeah, I think 2022-23 would be pretty close,” he said, in regard to a date for launching Down Under.
More than a pipedream, development of the ute in South Korea is already underway and it’s not just a softroader style pick-up we’re talking about, Meredith says it is a proper work ute that will suit Australian conditions, with diesel and petrol engines.
“Yeah, work has begun. We’re talking about a pick-up, dual-cab, single cab. What we’ve requested [for Australia] is the full gambit of a ute: double-cab, dual-cab, diesel and petrol.”
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It is the most detail we’ve heard yet of the ute that could put a dint in sales leaders like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux, with reports last year confirming only that a ute was on its way. But now we know that it will also receive local tuning in Australia and that program will likely have to happen in two years.
“That’s part of our robust strategy, we get every car that enters Australia to go through that process. It’s normally 8 to 12 months out so it won’t be happening in the next year or so,” Meredith told Wheels.
Furthermore, Kia’s ute is likely to land with Hyundai’s version of a dual-cab built on the same platform, according to Meredith.
“I think that’s logical, isn’t it?” Meredith says in regard to the Hyundai Motor Group building a ladder-frame platform both it and Kia can utilise and launch in Australia.
“Hopefully we’re first [to launch in Australia] but it doesn’t really matter. It'll be close.”
Wheels reached out to Hyundai but a spokesperson for the company said it had no comment.
Meanwhile, Kia is already projecting a sales target, claiming it intends to sell around 20,000 units per year based on projections. That will help Kia bolster its standing in the new car market, where manufacturers such as Toyota, Ford and Mitsubishi are raking in huge sales numbers supported by dual-cab utes. If indeed Kia can sell 20,000 units per year, that would make it around the fourth-largest seller of utes in Australia.
“When a light commercial range does arrive in Australia I’d be pretty confident - if its about 220,000 [total segment sales] per year - we’d be looking at around that 8 - 10 percent [of that]. We’d be confident with great product, great pricing and a seven-year warranty, so it’s a pretty powerful package I think.”