Seoul - South Korean sister brands Hyundai and Kia have become a force to be reckoned with on the global car market, collectively ranking in third place in terms of outright volume, but there is one profitable sphere where both are missing in action at the moment - the bakkie market.
Both Hyundai's and Kia’s Australian divisions have been lobbying for such a pick-up for years, and that appears to be paying off if we look at some of the conversations that Kia’s Australian boss Damien Meredith recently had with Australian journalists at a launch event for the Seltos in Korea.
Meredith told CarAdvice that there was definitely a “conversation” with head office over a one-tonne pickup. “It’s still a way off,” he added, “but we’re confident in the near future the group will have a light commercial range in Australia.”
He was also quoted by Motoring as stating that “work had begun” and that there were plans for a full range of derivatives: “We’re talking about a pick-up, dual-cab, single-cab. What we’ve requested is the full gambit of a ute, diesel and petrol.”
Yes, just like we say 'bakkie', Aussies say 'Ute'.
According to hints given, such a vehicle would be launched around 2022 or 2023 and there would no doubt be a Hyundai version too. The bakkies would also undergo a great deal of testing and development in Australia, the reports indicated.
Although the Korean one-tonners have not been confirmed for South Africa, the information we've seen so far bodes well for our market - given that they will be engineered for rough Australian conditions and available in right-hand-drive.
The only potential stumbling block would be pricing. The main one-tonne players in South Africa are built here, but as full imports exposed to the volatile rand, the Korean bakkies would likely command a price premium. If so, expect them to be niche players along the lines of Volkswagen’s Amarok, but at the very least they will give local buyers some added variety.