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Wait continues for Hyundai's pick-up

Ruled out: Hyundai's Renault Master-rivaling H350 is no closer to coming to Australia given its left-hand-drive only configuration.

Hyundai still evaluating how to bring a pick-up to the Australian market


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8 Mar 2016

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) is still hopeful it can add a pick-up to its growing line-up, but what form it will take is still unknown.

The South Korean car-maker has previously acknowledged that the lack of a one-tonne pick-up is the biggest gap in its line-up, with its competitors including Toyota, Holden, Ford and Mazda all attracting strong sales for their respective workhorses.

Speaking with GoAuto at the recent Elantra launch in Tasmania, HMCA senior product planning manager Andrew Tuitahi said the company was still investigating how to bring a pick-up to market Down Under.

“We want one, absolutely” he said. “We talk about it every three-to-six months.

It is still under study. We are still looking at how best to utilise it.”

Mr Tuitahi said one of the challenges Hyundai Motor Company in Korea had was how best to satisfy the needs of a number of global markets, given the different requirements and uses for such a vehicle.

“The biggest struggle Hyundai has as a global company is which ute do you build? Do you satisfy guys like Australia, South America, Africa with a one-tonne HiLux style, or do you satisfy North American with an F-Series truck style.

“When you look at the global markets, the volumes are somewhat similar. Maybe the one-tonne being slightly higher, but you have got much higher variations.

We are a dual-cab 4x4 market, whereas others are single-cab, extra cab, 4x2, South-East Asia is 4x2 and extra cabs. It’s a hard one.

“The volumes are relatively big but… compared to an Elantra, the variations and development work are quite high.”

To date, the closest thing to a pick-up Hyundai has revealed was the Santa Cruz concept that debuted at last year's Detroit motor show.

The Santa Cruz is based on the Tucson mid-size SUV and carries similar dimensions but is a more coupe-styled pick-up for urban adventurers as opposed to a rugged one-tonne ute favoured by Australian buyers.

The light-commercial utility segment last year made up 15.1 per cent of all new-vehicle sales in Australia, with 174,660 (40,657 4x2 and 134,003 4x4) units shifted.

Mr Tuitahi said while the Santa Cruz is yet to officially confirmed for production – despite Hyundai USA CEO Dave Zuchowski saying an announcement on its future was imminent at January's Detroit motor show – HMCA is looking at whether it could work in Australia.

“We have been looking at it,” he said. It is surprisingly practical, but again it’s a market that doesn’t really exist right now, it harks back to the Subaru Brumby style.

“We will look at it. At the moment it is an American concept and they are leading that project, but if it comes to fruition we will look at it and see what it looks like here.”

One commercial vehicle that definitely will not be heading Down Under any time soon is the H350 large van, revealed in late-2014.

The Renault Master, Fiat Ducato and Ford Transit Heavy rival is built in left-hand-drive configuration only at the moment and, according to Mr Tuitahi, was “primarily designed for Europe”.

“We have looked at it, we have run the numbers, we have had some feedback passed through to head office to let them know what the business case is here.

From our point of view there would be some changes that we would need to make in terms of powertrains and transmissions to maximise that opportunity.”

If production shifted to right-hand drive and the H350 was offered in Australia, it would sit above the perennially popular iLoad light van, which recently received a subtle make-over and gained new safety and connectivity features.

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