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Pick-up may join Kia Telluride SUV by 2021

Ride on: Kia’s telluride concept is headed for production, and it could be underpinned by a ladder-frame chassis shared with a Kia-badged pick-up.

A mid-sized ladder-frame pick-up under scrutiny as Kia looks to rival Ford Ranger


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11 Jun 2018

KIA is keen to take on the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux early next decade with a proposed pick-up truck that would most probably share its underpinnings with the coming production version of the full-sized seven-seater wagon based on the 2016 Telluride concept.


Thought to be in the planning stages, the medium-sized utility would be a true workhorse in dual-cab, single-cab and cab-chassis body style configurations, matching such as the Ranger with ladder-frame construction and rear- or optional four-wheel-drive capability.


The as-yet unnamed pick-up will also likely share four-cylinder diesel and V6 petrol engines and transmissions with the production version of the Telluride SUV, which was confirmed for production to Australian journalists by Kia Motors president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer at the Detroit motor show back in January.


At the same event, Kia Motors America vice-president of product planning Orth Hedrick told one US publication that any proposed light truck bearing the company logo would, in his opinion, have “to be authentic”, with ladder-frame construction.


While nobody at the company is willing to confirm the existence of the pick-up in the upcoming product portfolio, Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) product planning general manager Roland Rivero said he hoped the brand would enter the segment soon, particularly in light of the Ranger’s return to the massive North American market as well as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ recent announcement that it will launch a Ram mid-size pick-up from 2020.


“If we were going to prioritise things, it would be a small SUV and a light-commercial vehicle,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the fourth-generation Cerato in Adelaide last week.


“And with a light-commercial vehicle being a pick-up, we’re also not discounting the fact it could also become an SUV. So, get that ladder-frame platform, push for not only a dual cab, single cab and cab chassis, but we’d also look at a potential SUV in a similar vein to Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest.


“2020/2021 is where I would like it to be.”


Mr Rivero said that a move to the light-commercial market is the next logical step to growing the Kia brand in Australia from a record 54,737 sales last year, and so is keen – along with other KMAu senior management including chief operating officer Damien Meredith – to see action on the light-commercial vehicle front as soon as possible.


“We have made it to top seven year to date… and if you look at who’s at number one to number six above us, they’ve all got a light-commercial range. So, are we frustrated? To some extent, yes.


“Do I want one, does Damien want one? Absolutely.


“We always put our hand up. Every time we have get an opportunity to be in front of KMC, whether it be the research and development team or global CEO, they’re well aware. More recently, the global CEO was in town, and from his trip to the airport to KMAu head office, he lost count of the number of utes he saw… and he was a bit surprised by (their popularity).


“I explained to him that such trucks are recession proof, in that irrespective of a global financial crisis or drought, they’re a tool of trade and business has to continue. And on top of that you have accessories revenue to explore.


“So, believe me, R&D are aware of the potential that’s there, and they’re studying it profusely.”


A pick-up truck and Telluride wagon, as well as a new small SUV, would launch KMAu into top-five sales contention, according to Mr Rivero. Year to date to the end of May, KMAu is sitting at seventh spot in Australia with 24,281 registrations (a 10.4 per cent jump over the same time period in 2017), behind Toyota at number one, then Mazda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Ford and Holden.


“For us, once we tick that box, the potential is huge,” he believes. “We’re number seven now, but with a commercial and small SUV range as well as a seven-year warranty, that could push us well within the top five.”


The question of sourcing the pick-up and SUV duo is thought to be a concern, with Kia running close to capacity at most plants around the world. Mexico has been touted as a possible production source.


“We’re pretty much at full capacity, so we’ll have to come up with a new factory somewhere, and that’s not easy,” Mr Rivero said.


Kia isn’t new to trucks, with the company founded on light commercials in 1944. Its 1980 Mazda Bongo forward-control light truck continues to be made in some countries, but was discontinued in Australia as the K900 in 2012 after a successful decade-long run.

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