Detroit - Hyundai plans to launch a pickup truck in the United States as part of a broader plan to catch up with a shift away from sedans in one of the Korean carmaker's most important markets, a senior company executive told Reuters.

Michael J O’Brien, vice president of corporate and product planning at Hyundai's US unit, told Reuters that Hyundai's top management has given the green light for development of a pickup truck similar to a show vehicle called the Santa Cruz that was revealed in 2015.

However, that means Hyundai will be taking a completely fresh approach to the pickup market, not only in terms of size, but also underpinnings as the Santa Cruz is a unibody vehicle.

Sources indicate that that the pickup will share its architecture with the Tucson SUV, which will also make it somewhat smaller than than the full-sized pickups that currently dominate the US market.

Or could it start a new craze in the US? Fiat has tried a similar thing in Brazil with its Jeep Renegade-based Toro.

Part of the reason for the new trucklet's development is that Hyundai's US dealers have pushed the company to invest more aggressively in SUVs and trucks as demand for sedans such as the midsize Sonata and the smaller Elantra has waned.

“We are optimistic about the future," Scott Fink, chief executive of Hyundai of New Port Richey, Florida, which is Hyundai's biggest US dealer, said. "But we are disappointed that we don't have the products today."

"Our glasses are fairly clean," O'Brien said. "We understand where we have a shortfall."

At this stage it remains uncertain if the new bakkie is destined for South African shores.

IOL & Reuters